Underground Greenwich (13) Not A Hobbit Hole
Oh, that I had permission to reproduce a photo from John Bold’s fabulous Greenwich. Instead, all I can do is point you to Page 19 if you have it already or get you to sneak into Waterstones and have a peeky at the display copy Jayson has hopefully put out for your delight and delectation. It may even persuade you to buy it. What a book…
For the moment, though, you’ll have to live with my description of Figure 28. It is an undated photograph of the above, before it was emasculated, bricked up and turned into what looks like somewhere Bilbo Baggins would live.
In the (probably Victorian or Edwardian) picture, the conduit head, for that’s what it is, is open, spilling out into a charming little pond. Ivy cascades down the brick walls and a precarious-looking tree perches on top of the waterhead. Even at the time of this photograph the inscription over the doorway is illegible.
It looks as though, if you were prepared to get your galoshes wet, you could walk straight through the pond and into the tunnels – and that’s exactly what our friend John Stone did in the early 20th Century. He says “The way lies right and left inside the doorway,” but doesn’t bother elaborating because, as I’ve mentioned before, it seems as though rambling through the tunnels of Greenwich Park was a regular activity for locals at the time.
Sadly it would seem the Health & Safety brigade got to this charming little pond and drained it, before bricking-up the passage entrance forever. Why they couldn’t have just put a little ornamental fence around it and a nice iron grille over the door if they didn’t want kiddies to drown and teenagers to get lost in the tunnels is beyond me.