Subterranean Greenwich Gone Underground

Hawksmoor's Conduit House in Greenwich Park, just one entrance to the network


Several people have been asking me what happened to the Subterranean Greenwich Blog, which looked at all matters underground in the area – and let’s face it, there seems to be as much going on under our feet in Greenwich one way or another as there is at ground level. The site appears to have gone, er, underground.

I started to look into it but found my work had already been done by one of my favourite bloggers, Transpontine in a post from – gulp – 2012 – which shows you just how long I’ve had my eye off the time-ball.

His tale of cyber attack and disappearing blogs was unnerving to say the least, but there was hope in the comments where Per and Dom reassured us there was a new domain and all would be well. But it’s gone again – I’ve tried all the domains the blog ever had and all the email addresses I’ve ever had for the derring-duo, with no luck.

Dom – Per – if you’re out there, let us know – sundry Phantophiles and my own spectral self are wondering where you and your marvellously comprehensive blog of all things Down Under have gone.

If the site has gone for good, we have lost the best resource there is for Underground Greenwich, or at least the best public resource – they may be documents locked in some gabinetto segreto somewhere, scratched in Name of the Rose-style poisonous ink to ward off would-be nosey-parkers but I don’t know of it.

There are many things of an underground nature I never touched on myself because I’m not one for reinventing wheels, but now I sort of wish I had. It’s certainly something authorities are not keen to explore on an official basis.

But I don’t like to leave today’s post on such a grim note, so here’s my early Easter Egg, a little missive I received a short while ago.

I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve talked about Vanbrugh Castle – there’s no point in my even giving you links – just google ‘Vanbrugh Castle tunnels’ or ‘underground’ within the blog and you’ll find dozens of things people have told me or that I’ve winkled out myself about this creepy, fascinating, nutty – and subterranean – oddity (btw WordPress has an odd way of hiding the next-page tabs so you can’t see them and think there’s just the one.)

So much has been written about the tunnels alleged to be underneath this strange building – do they or don’t they exist etc. – that I was particularly grateful to hear from Gary who attended Vanbrugh Castle when it was a school in the 1970s. He tells me:

I went to Vanburgh Castle School between 1971 and 1973. There are indeed tunnels. Just off the five-a-side concrete football pitch was a wooded area known as the Dell, which was out of bounds. The fence there was damaged and a small boy could crawl under it.

Once under the fence there was what appeared to be a tunnel/ drain? which was barred, but one bar was bent allowing access. This tunnel lead back up towards the school grounds. After a fair bit of crawling it opened into a large room type area – I believe now this was an old air raid shelter. A few of us boys would creep out of bed at night and venture off to the tunnel and spent a few hours most nights in this shelter, by torch light. God only knows what might have happened to us if there had been any flooding/collapse!! We would never have been found. Frightens the life out of me now!

Thank you Gary. Was this just an air raid shelter or do we need to link it to an older room, perhaps the tunnel between Vanbrugh Castle and Vanbrugh House or even something else – a conduit, perhaps that might have stretched across the road into the park to join up with the labyrinth underneath.

I confess I don’t know anyone who lives there now who could verify if they still exist. Maybe someone else does…

the attachments to this post:

Hawksmoor's Conduit House in Greenwich Park, just one entrance to the network
conduit house

Vanbrugh castle winter
Vanbrugh castle winter

6 Comments to “Subterranean Greenwich Gone Underground”

  1. Mary says:

    I suspect that Per/Marquis/whoever has retired. However can I advertise the current issue of Subterranea (December 2014 issue 37) which has an article in it on the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot tunnels by – er – me. I think you can get copies via the Sub-Brit Web site – or I can get them.
    As a result of this article Peter Bone did some research on an earlier Woolwich Foot Tunnel which we have put on the GIHS blog and which has already had a record number of hits.
    I have agreed with Sub Brit editor Nick Catford to send in a review of this entry and would welcome any comments from readers which I could include. Thanks

  2. Michael says:

    Did you try the Internet Archive :

    I wasn’t 100 % sure what to look for (you need the original URLs) but found this and there may be more

  3. Adam says:

    On the one hand, I loved the historical information on the site, but on the other I found some of the campaigning slightly over-zealous (campaigning to shut swathes of the SE London train network to allow for boring for the presence of ground works!). But interested to know what became of it

  4. Mr Eee says:

    There’s some small remains of the blog here. Not much I’m afraid (3 stories) but slightly better than nothing.

  5. Phantom, may I reblog this?