(Image: Newage2. Forgotten tunnels beneath Bristol Temple Meads railway station)
Earlier this week, while hurrying to catch a train at Temple Meads railway station in Bristol, South West England, I noticed two parallel, long abandoned rails set into the cobbles at street level, which disappeared into an equally disused tunnel portal leading, presumably, to some sort of station undercroft. A quick Google search took me to an article published last month on the Bristol Post newspaper website, titled: “We take a walk through the secret tunnels hidden under Temple Meads railway station”. Clearly, the secret tunnels have been rediscovered!
According to the newspaper, the abandoned tunnel network beneath Temple Meads station is so extensive that new sections keep on being discovered. The passages date back 178 years to the vast building’s construction. When Temple Meads opened on August 31, 1840, with a service from Bristol to Bath, a major storage facility was needed for the goods – mostly coal and wine – that would be brought in by train and dispersed around the region. A century later, during World War Two, the space would also find use as an air raid shelter.
The Bristol Post wrote that around 10 million people use Temple Meads station each year and most had no clue about the “winding maze of tunnels beneath their feet.” According to the newspaper: “[The tunnels] were once an important part the Bristol station, being used for storing wine and coal and even an air raid shelter – but only for the high and mighty.”
It added: “The first narrow pathways were built in the late 1830s when work first started on the station. Over time more tunnels were created as new sections of the station were built, and throughout the 1800s and 1900s they were used for storage.”
Tales of paranormal activity inside the forgotten tunnels are now predictably a part of the station’s folklore. But it’s fair to say that the spectres of long-disused wine cellars and a vast coal storage facility still haunt the gloomy space. The air raid shelter, meanwhile, was reportedly reserved for high ranking Bristolians. Nowadays the tunnels can be accessed by all on Bristol Doors Open Day, when members of the public are able to take a look inside.
In addition to the rails that disappear into the tunnel mouth adjacent to the station access road, a network of narrow gauge tracks were used to transport goods through the maze of tunnels beneath Temple Meads’ busy platforms, enduring within a hidden world little changed for decades.
Related: The Abandoned Low-Level âVictorian Platformâ of Glasgow Central Station
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