Did you know there was an old, disused Underground Railway in my hometown, Harrogate? The tunnel was abandoned 150 years ago and the far end near Leeds road became an air raid shelter during the war years.
George Hudson and the York and North Midland railway completed the line from Church Fenton in 1848. When it reached the site of what is now Harrogate’s Hornbeam Park station, it veered left and then plunged under the 400 yard long Brunswick tunnel, before emerging on what is now the far side of the Leeds Road/Park Drive roundabout. Here the line followed a discreet cutting before reaching Brunswick station, built opposite Trinity church, on Trinity road next to the stray. The only evidence the station was here these days is a plaque set in stone opposite the church.
The station was built here, because it was not allowed to cross the Stray, for fears of noise and smoke polluting the area. However attitudes had changed towards the railway by 1862 when the North Eastern railway arrived in the town and completed the new station where it still stands today. The branch through Brunswick tunnel and the station was then abandoned after only 14 years in operation.
During the Second World War the tunnel was converted into an air raid shelter with steps leading down to it from the Leeds road roundabout area. Workmen constructing the roundabout in the 1960’s accidentally dug into the roof of the tunnel not knowing it was there.
The air raid shelter was abandoned by 1943. Today the entrance is filled in leaving no trace it was ever there. Apparently, the tunnel is in remarkably good condition considering it has been abandoned for 150ish years, you can even see the indents in the floor were the sleepers used to be.
The air raid shelter was built with six foot high blast walls and wooden benches running along both sides of the tunnel. Toilet cubicles were also to be found in all four corners. There was also evidence of electric cabling suggesting there was a light and power supply down there during the war.
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