Talk - The Secret Tunnels
of South Heighton (continued...)
It’s quite an impasse, and impasses are pretty inconvenient
when you’re dealing with tunnels: it also means that
the Council have stopped funding the Friends as they continue
further research into its history. Sadly, unless some agreement
is reached, it looks like the Friends’ ambition to make
the tunnels suitable for public access may not happen until
circumstances change, despite the fact that in 2000 English
Heritage declared it a Site of National Importance.
We leave the tunnel, and Geoffrey drives me up to the Guinness
Trust building: we peer into the window of what is now a community
centre to see a plaque dedicated to the complex. Much of the
building has been demolished: the original main entrance to
the tunnel is under a manhole cover in someone’s garden.
As we leave, I discover a fascinating bit of information.
The Germans, while they were aware that an ‘HMS Forward’
existed, never had an inkling that it was a shore-based communications
complex, and never knew its whereabouts. In fact William Joyce,
aka Lord Haw-Haw, the Nazi English language propaganda broadcaster,
announced on the radio in 1944 that ‘HMS Forward had
been sunk by the German Navy, with the loss of all hands.’
It might take some time yet to re-float it.
Geoffrey Ellis is giving illustrated talks about ‘The
Secret Tunnels of South Heighton’ on Tuesday afternoon
and Wednesday evening.