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Any bidders? Hidden underground tunnels with eerie history to go under the hammer

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: November 18, 2013

By REBECCA RICKS Herald Reporter @RebeccaRicksTH

Comments (7)

THREE tunnels in Devonport which date back to the Napoleonic War are to go under the hammer next month.

The chambers on Devonport Hill were also used in World War Two as air raid shelters for Plymouth residents during bombing blitzes on the city.

They have been in the Tapper family since the 1950s and now with little use for them the family have put them on the market.

Co-owner Kevin said hearsay history of the tunnels had been passed through the family.

He said the origins of the chambers come from the days when Devonport was a fortified town with its own moat and drawbridge.

The stones the arches now rest on were the stones of which the drawbridge laid when opened.

It is believed the dead and injured of the war were transported away from the eyes of the Plymouth public up to the former Cumberland House through the drained out moat.

Decades later the arches were built upon the stones making the tunnels we see in the pictures today which have been used for storage more recently.

Mr Tapper’s grandfather was a fisherman with moorings at Stonehouse.

He would use the chambers as storage for his boat and fishing gear until he passed the tunnels onto his son – Kevin’s uncle.

They later made their way to Kevin’s father who was in the process of buying the tunnels off the Ministry of Defence when he died suddenly.

“I purchased them from the MoD, my father was buying them when he suddenly died,” explained sub-contractor Kevin.

“The MoD asked if we wished to carry on the purchase because the family had been long standing tenants.

“Myself and my brother are co-owners of them but we weren’t doing anything with them and because of their location they need a lot of attention so we’ve decided to move on now.”

He said there was quite a history handed through the family.

The 54-year-old from St Budeaux, said: “We’ve been told that they injured all the injured and dead up to the hospital behind the tunnels and I believe the French Prisoners of War were paraded up them to keep them from the Plymouth people.

“They didn’t want people in Plymouth to see the horrors of Naval battle.”

The tunnels are set to go on auction on December 12.

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7 comments

  • Theglibster  |  November 20 2013, 5:48PM

    @TheMilj Plymouth does have a Chamber Of Commerce, but not interested in this type of thing. Prefer more self promotion type activities.

    Rate   2
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  • coppersmith  |  November 18 2013, 9:55AM

    these tunnels are great history, spent many a childhood day roaming around down there, there was an old guy called Alfie who could tell some tales. Great days.

    Rate   3
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  • TheMilj  |  November 18 2013, 2:04AM

    The City of Plymouth and especially Devonport, has a lot of hidden history that should be brought to the public's attention and could be used to benefit the city regarding tourism...the City needs a Chamber of Commerce to encourage tourism and perhaps improve links with the remainder of the country north of Exeter...it can make money for the city as a whole and relieve the over taxed people...just saying...as another aside, maybe cruise ships should be enticed into Plymouth and embark in South Yard with all the Napoleonic structures being utilized to their full extent using the old Marlborough Gate entrance..

    Rate   8
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  • cashlift  |  November 17 2013, 8:19PM

    thee is a very large underground air raid shelter at the pennycomequick end of Central Park , which the council is proposing to build houses on top of , why not open it up to let the children see where people went during air raids and see the writing on the walls from candel smoke

    Rate   12
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  • markrush  |  November 17 2013, 11:39AM

    Are there not even bigger tunnels where ammunition was once stored - you can still the railway line leading into the tunnel entrance from Saltash bridge In any other city this would be a tourist attraction as kids love this type of thing however sadly we do not have a proper tourist board or effective tourist manager.

    Rate   7
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  • BS_Hater  |  November 16 2013, 10:05PM

    Interesting stuff, lets see more articles like this Herald..

    Rate   18
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  • AlecSplode  |  November 16 2013, 7:57PM

    I'm sure this is a very interesting story. I'd love to see a translation of the article into English.

    Rate   34
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