85ft under the oh so cool Ouseburn lies the Victoria Tunnel.
Built and opened in 1842, the former wagon way is now a volunteer led tourist attraction and we visited on Halloween for a spooky tour.
Stretching for over 2 miles under the city centre of Newcastle, the Victoria Tunnel is mostly still intact and in use, in part. It winds its way from the Town Moor area right down to the River Tyne at Ouseburn, with the centre section being commandeered by the drainage system for the Central Motorway.
The upper portion isn’t suitable for visitors so we trekked the 800yrds at the lower end of the tunnel with our pair of volunteer guides.
A 2hr walking tour (£6pp) saw us donning hard hats and wellies and armed with a torch for the subterranean adventure ahead where we learned about the history of the original wagon way and later the tunnels use as air raid shelters.
We loved exploring the engineering feats of the 1800s and the use of more modern materials and methods in order to make it suitable for habitation during air raids. You could see the original seating and bunk beds… and even the glamorous toilet facilities!
There is low level lighting for parts but armed with our torches we made our way deeper until we were 85ft under the city, which is the deepest point. At this point had a bomb dropped above, we’d have been nonethewiser. Thankfully we didn’t have to find this out!
It was an incredibly interesting 2hrs and we were glad we finally took the tour. It was our 3rd attempt but work kept getting in the way!
If you have issues with the dark then it might not be the best place to visit. It isn’t too enclosed but you do have to go through several switch backs (percussive blast protection) which does bring the walls right in as you snake through them. The tunnel does rise rapidly at the midway point of the tour. A very steep ramp and stairs take intrepid trekkers up to almost the surface. There is an option to wait at the bottom if you don’t fancy it.
Wrap up warm and wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
I wish more people knew about the tunnels and visited as it is their admission price that keep it open and maintained for the future.
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