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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.

The hills were alive: in the war years this tunnel led to a
top-secret intelligence complex built into South Heighton Hill
South Heighton Village Hall
When? 2.30pm Tues, 7.30pm Weds
How Much? £1.50. In advance from The Hampden Arms
© Photograph FHMSF