Site Records

SiteName: Ramsgate Public Air Raid Shelter & Scenic Railway

Marina Esplanade (Southern portal of railway tunnel)
OS Grid Ref: TR387650

Sub Brit site visit August 1984 and January 1997

[Source: Nick Catford]

Close to the junction with the newer shelter tunnels is the network of narrow tunnels leading to the Esplanade and Victoria Parade entrances. There is a blockage before the start of the steps up to Victoria Parade.

It is still possible to climb up onto the original floor of the chalk well, which consists of a conical chamber 12 feet across and 30 feet high. What appears to be a wooden cap can be seen in the shaft at roof level.

Close to the southern portal the letters for 'Tunnel Railway' which were once mounted above the portal, are leaning against one wall. The shelter tunnels are in good condition as far as the branch to St. Luke's Recreation Ground with one short section lined in concrete through unstable ground. Beyond this point there has been a roof fall that totally blocks the passage and further progress. The remains of electrical fittings are visible in the tunnel roof and remnants of curtains can be seen across some of the toilet recesses. (Photo: Beach Station from Mike Morant)

Photo:Entrance to the shelter tunnels from the standard gauge tunnel (1984)
Photo by Nick Catford

Beyond the blockage are two smaller falls that can be climbed over but BEWARE if you should find your way into the tunnels as there is bad air between these falls and the total blockage. This area should NOT be entered. The branch tunnel to St. Georges School passes through unstable ground and is lined with concrete. The Townley Castle entrance has not been backfilled, only slabbed over and it's still possible to see daylight through the cracks between the slabs.

Photo:Entrance from Cannon Road car park (1997)
Photo by Nick Catford

Two car train at Hereson Road Station (Photo by R.L.Eastleigh)

Beyond the inclined passage up to the Cannon Road Car Park entrance there is a T-junction and beyond this point progress is difficult and soon becomes impossible. A sewer pipe runs the length of the section from Ellington Park to the Harbour. It is possible to crawl along the top of the sewer pipe for a short distance towards Ellington Park and two small rooms can be reached on the south side of the tunnel but beyond these it is too tight to make further progress. The final section is the best preserved of all with painted signs and notices remaining on

the walls and a white brick lined room is accessible below the hospital. Beyond the Hospital/ Queen Street Junction the sewer pipe again halts progress. There is a major collapse under Liverpool Lawn.

The future of the tunnels seems secure although it is unclear if they will ever be put to any other use.

Thanet District Council have had grand plans to open up at least part of the network as a tourist attraction and in 1996 held a series of meetings and a tunnel visit with members of Subterranea Britannica and the Defence of Britain Project to discuss various possibilities for future development. The idea seems to have been shelved, at least for the time being, and this unique 4 mile network of railway and shelter tunnels lies abandoned and forgotten.

Gallery under construction with contractors tramway in place. (Pic from 'The War Illustated' 16/12/39)

Currently five carriages from the Ramsgate Tunnel Railway are stll in use on the narrow gauge steam railway at Hollycombe

Photo:Collapsed roof beyond St. Lukes Recreation Ground branch (1984
Photo by Nick Catford

For further pictures of the Ramsgate tunnels click here

[Source: Nick Catford]


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