Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 17

Thread: Welbeck Tunnels, Notts, September 2016

  1. #1
    Join Date
    January 2013
    Location
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
    Posts
    2,882
    Thanked
    5446

    Default Welbeck Tunnels, Notts, September 2016


    The History:

    Welbeck Abbey is located in the Dukeries in North Nottinghamshire. It was the site of a monastery belonging to the Premonstratensian order in England and after the Dissolution of the Monasteries became a country house residence of the Dukes of Portland. One of the Dukes put his name on the map by building a tunnel complex that radiated out from the house. The Duke in question was William John Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland (formally the Marquis of Titchfield).

    Welbeck 5th Duke by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Born in 1800, he inherited the Welbeck Estate in 1854 and spent a fortune on building work, including the aforementioned 10km complex of tunnels along with underground rooms and a subterranean kitchen railway. He spent about 100,000 a year for more than eighteen years to realise his plans (at a cost of 2m in today’s money), and employed as many as 1,500 workers as the vicinity of the house resembled a builder’s yard. Many of the workers were Irish labourers (referred to by locals as ‘Sligo’) who built the London Underground.

    He built four main tunnels in total, using the “cut and cover” technique. Tunnel No.2 was the longest at approximately one-and-a-half-miles long. Lit by the skylights by day (which appeared at intervals of about approximately 10-yards) at night a series of gas lamps illuminated the tunnel, the gas being supplied by the Duke’s nearby Gas Works. Starting by the lodge close-by to the riding school, it snaked north before swinging round to the east, coming out in the open briefly, before again disappearing underground again and continuing north-east towards the (inappropriately named) South Lodge.

    Tunnel entrance to the south of the riding school:

    Welbeck Tunnel entrance by HughieDW, on Flickr

    The purpose of this tunnel was so the duke could ride off his estate undetected in the direction of Worksop Railway Station to catch the train to London. The tunnel was abandoned in the late 19th century when a section forming part of the lake dam failed. Remaining stretches of tunnel survive on either side of the lake. The tunnel's skylights can be seen from the Robin Hood Way footpath which follows its course and a masonry entrance can be seen between two (South) lodges at the north-eastern limit of the park. Tunnel No.1 was shorter, its entrance was just north of the abbey as it headed due north before coming out after approximately half-a-kilometre later. It was used as a carriage-way, broad enough for two carriages to pass and a track swung round to join the open stretch of Tunnel No.2.

    How the scene may have looked back in the day:

    People in Hiding: The Mysterious Duke. The Fifth Duke of Portland by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Tunnel No.3 was the kilometre-long Plant Corridor which runs between the main house and riding house. It was built wide enough for several people to walk side-by-side.

    Welbeck plant corridoor adj by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Running parallel to the Plant Corridor to the north is Tunnel No.4, a narrower, rougher-hewn tunnel, which the duke had built for the servants. In addition there are many other smaller tunnels including a grotto corridor, a corridor-like fruit arcade, and corridors with narrow-gauge rails used to transport warm food to the main house. Additionally the Horse Corridor, decorated with antler racks, leads to the underground ballroom. At 50m long and 20m high it was the largest private room in England at the time.

    Print of Welbeck from 1881:

    Welbeckprint1881 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Speculation abounds as to why the duke had the tunnels constructed. One line of thought was that he may have had health issues (some suggest the skin condition known as Psoriasis) meaning he wanted to withdraw from the public eye. Others believe it was more down to the duke's obsession with technology and the fact he enjoyed the process of building and all its associated administrative hubris. What is for sure, however, is that he never married and on the 1st July 1878 his wagonnette carried him through the Welbeck tunnels for a last time when he traveled to London. He remained in his London residence at Harcourt House until his death on the 6th December 1879. His estate then passed to his nephew, Sir William John Arthur Charles James Cavendish Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland.

    During the First World War the kitchen block was used as an army hospital then during World War II the army leased the main property as an Officers Mess while some of the tunnels were used as an ammunition depot until just after the end of the war. Welbeck was then leased by the Dukes of Portland to the Ministry of Defence who from 1953 operated it as Welbeck College, an army training college. That continued until 2005 when the Ministry of Defence moved out and the abbey reverted back to the family seat of residence.

    The 5th Duke has been the focus of two books; Mick Jackson's 1997 Booker short-listed “The Underground Man” and Derek Adlam’s “Tunnel Vision: The Enigmatic Fifth Duke of Portland”.

    The Pictures:

    img8203 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8197 by HughieDW, on Flickr
    img8105 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8109 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8110 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8112 by HughieDW, on Flickr



    img8115 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8119 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8121 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8126 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8158 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8129 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8140 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8144 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Welbeckphone03 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8147 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8149 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Welbeckphone02 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    Welbeckphone04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8163 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8175 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8179 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8180 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8184 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8186 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8192 by HughieDW, on Flickr

    img8193 by HughieDW, on Flickr


    › See more like: Welbeck Tunnels, Notts, September 2016

    ----------
    Thanks given by: flyboys90, Hugh Jorgan, Infraredd, Mearing, Mikeymutt, Old Wilco, oldscrote, reelman, Rubex, serendipitylojo, smiler, The Wombat, theartist, thorfrun

  2. #2
    Join Date
    March 2009
    Location
    Worcestershire
    Posts
    106
    Thanked
    20

    Default


    Thanks for the pictures - Are there any shots online of the underground ballroom?
    Bostin...

    ----------

  3. #3
    Join Date
    January 2013
    Location
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
    Posts
    2,882
    Thanked
    5446

    Default


    Quote Originally Posted by Mid diesel View Post
    Thanks for the pictures - Are there any shots online of the underground ballroom?
    Not probs. Yes...if you search in Google Pictures you will find a few archive pictures plus one or two more recent ones.

    ----------

  4. #4
    Join Date
    March 2013
    Location
    Leicestershire
    Age
    39
    Posts
    1,347
    Thanked
    2294

    Default


    This is excellent.
    We had a look round here earlier in the year, but didn't see a fraction of what you did!

    Top work Hughie
    Black cat exploring company

    ----------
    Thanks given by: HughieD

  5. #5
    Join Date
    March 2009
    Location
    Worcestershire
    Posts
    106
    Thanked
    20

    Default


    fab- thanks
    Bostin...

    ----------

  6. #6
    Join Date
    November 2012
    Location
    Chesterfield
    Posts
    319
    Thanked
    1198

    Default


    Brilliant Hughie... congrats on the research paying off.... as you know I've been appreciating these shots on Flickr

    Top job!

    ----------
    Thanks given by: HughieD

  7. #7
    Join Date
    October 2010
    Location
    Lost in Cornwall
    Posts
    3,362
    Thanked
    2442

    Default


    Bloody Well Done Hughie, Loved it, Thanks
    Smiler

    ----------
    Thanks given by: HughieD

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    The Centre of England or near enough
    Posts
    7,135
    Thanked
    4602

    Default


    Really fascinating report.Enjoyed reading the history of the tunnels I had no idea they existed.

    ----------
    Thanks given by: HughieD

  9. #9
    Join Date
    January 2013
    Location
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.
    Posts
    2,882
    Thanked
    5446

    Default


    Cheers guys. Really loved this place. The folly of a true English eccentric.

    ----------

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Hertfordshire
    Posts
    590
    Thanked
    1914

    Default


    What an interesting place and well researched. really enjoyed this report Hughie

    ----------
    Thanks given by: HughieD

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Derelict Trio, Ollerton, Notts, October 2016
    By HughieD in forum Misc Sites
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11th Oct 16, 07:25
  2. RAF Wigsley, Notts, September 2016
    By HughieD in forum Military Sites
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 10th Oct 16, 18:55
  3. Upton Hall Stable block, Notts, July 2016
    By HughieD in forum Rural Sites
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 7th Jul 16, 11:58
  4. RAF Gamston, Notts, February 2016
    By HughieD in forum Military Sites
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 23rd Feb 16, 10:11

About us
DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
Follow us