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A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

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A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby tom83 » January 22nd, 2010, 6:18 pm

Hi all,
As some of you know I am very interested in World War 1 and 2, especially our local involvement in the Conflicts. During my Research I have found and been to some fantastic places which have survived until now, most interestingly a training Camp in Croft, and a near complete AA Battery near to Widnes. One place which has always been of great interest to me is Burtonwood Air Base. As we all know the site has been totally demolished now, but I did have the chance to work in BAD 2 which was the newer part of the base, situated between Burtonwood Road and Whittle Ave, shortly before it was Bulldozed. It was a very interesting place to work, with odd things built into the place. Over the years I have heard many rumours about the site, including an underground town, and a rail tunnel to Liverpool Docks.

Now this is what interests me, the Rail tunnel, an underground Rail link direct to the Docks at Liverpool, I have heard this many times from people who have lived locally to the site in the past. I can understand where these rumours come from, because even in the late 80's driving past as a child with my parents, one day the place would be heaving with military jeeps and trucks, and the next day there would be nothing, not a trace that anything was there.

Now, even though I had discouraged this rumour, I read an article on the internet a few weeks ago which made me think again. An American Soldier who was stationed at the base in the 70's, was asked about an underground network at Burtonwood, and apparently his reply was "I doubt its there anymore".

I was just wondering, if anybody else had heard these rumours, or anything else about an underground network at Burtonwood?
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby Steven Dowd » January 23rd, 2010, 1:00 pm

Most of my family at one time or another worked at the airbase at Burtonwood, both during and after the war, also my grandmother was the warrington councillor for Burtonwood just after the war, she had access to maps that even included the spare hidden underground fuel tanks etc, but I have asked my father and he grew up in Burtonwood as I did, getting chased by Americans off the airbase, playing in the Bunkers and exploring the air raid shelters as I did, and he has never heard anyone mention a tunnel..

Besides that, it would i think have been an engineering miracle, almost riveling the channel tunnel in length, and would have generated a spoil heap something like the size of Billinge Hill.

I think its a myth.

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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby tom83 » January 23rd, 2010, 1:09 pm

To be honest, I had thought about the lenght and spoil from the tunnel. like I said, for years I have discouraged the rumour, it was just the comment from the American Serviceman that made me think twice.

I think if there was any Underground workings at the site, they were like you say underground Fuel Tanks, bunkers and small storage rooms, and the Myth of an underground city is exactly that...............a myth.

Still its nice to let the mind wander........
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby She » January 24th, 2010, 10:56 am

Call me old fashioned, but I say that "there's no smoke without fire" - plus I like the romantic idea of things being hidden underground.

People are prone to exageration and I suspect that (as Steve points out) an entire rail network all the way to Liverpool is very unlikely.It is also probable that if this existed it would have been known about by the local people, so seems a bit of a negative that Stevens folk ( in the Burtonwood inner circle of the time) have not heard about this.

However (playing the devils advocate) they may have had a mile or 2 of lines that went elsewhere or even as you say, an underground storage facility. As a child, my parents took me to Jersey a lot and I spent a fair amount of time visiting the German underground hospital there. This was an entire hospital built underground in WW2 and it was an amazing structure. Huge rooms and big concrete walls with miles of tunnels. Today you can't see anything visible on the surface, so who knows what they did with the spoils they dug out, but this large man made underground structure was impressive, was big and it still exists- minus a hill of soil!

I am sure you have visited these sites by way of research, but if not see "UK undeground passeges and bases" - http://www.abovetopsecret.com
One of the forum members says......(when talking about underground facilities)-
there is a place outside liverpool called burtonwood that was a major storage dump:


Also - is there any evidence now of the 4+ miles of railway track? This was a big place! I do suspect however that any of the lorries and other equipment etc, that suddenly disappeared may have been driven into one of the 13 hangers out of the way - and not some hidden underground facility. It would make more sense I guess!

Burtonwood air base has 18 miles of surface roadway, over 4½ miles of railway track, 13 hangars, 16 miles of fencing covering 1,471 acres, and nearly 4 million square feet of aircraft parking facilities
.
I bet the people developing Omega would know the answer to this.

PS: Liverpool does have some underground train lines, but development on them ceased due to lack of funds. Who knows!
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby ps68060 » January 29th, 2010, 1:09 pm

Everyone here will have heard about this http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressr ... mole.shtml so building extensive tunnels in the area is not difficult and had been proved possible.

We are also in the right area for mining in general. With military thinking though, local miners wouldn't be used but it does offer a way to dispose of the spoil, by dumping it in disused coal mining tunnels.

A huge task and not exactly sensible during wartime. However, in the cold war who knows, a nuclear strike on Burtonwood was expected and being able to protect essential supplies would have been important.
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby She » January 29th, 2010, 4:40 pm

I asked my Dad about this subject, because his profession was repairing aircraft engines, so as you can imagine he went to Burtonwood a great deal. He says he never heard any mention of either underground tunnels, rail tracks or storage facilities in all the time he worked there.

However thinking logically - if anything like this did exists I would expect it would be classified information. As you say - Burtonwood would have been a target in WW2, so nobody is gonna hold a flag up from a bunker and yell "Im here Mr Hitler....come and find me".
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby Chorlton1 » February 10th, 2010, 4:09 pm

I chatted with the owner Bob of B & J Taxis some time ago I think has now moved abroad and he had been on the base and mentioned a heavily guarded lift in one of the hangars to the underground storage.
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby neileen » February 11th, 2010, 7:42 pm

i have spoken to my uncle this afternoon,he worked at burtonwood base for years and only retired from there when he was 75 and he said that there was ,without any doubt,no rail tunnel from the base. he said it took years to get the over ground rail link into the base,and that it was considered to join up with the main line to liverpool, but never happened. he knew every inch of the place and stakes his life on the fact it never existed
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby RINGO22 » June 26th, 2011, 9:27 am

It's great reading all your accounts of the likely hood or un-likely hood of a possible underground town and railway at Raf Burtonwood. My own thoughts come from certain facts that I have encountered over the years about the site.
Firstly in the early 1990’s I visited the site with a friend to pick an ice making machine up in a transit pick-up. We were lead to a lift that fitted our transit van in with room to spare may I add that took us down one level to what turned out to be one of the biggest underground rooms I have seen (partly in darkness). At the time we never thought anything of it as it was a well known to locals that Burtonwood had an underground facility.
Then some years later I spoke to an electrician that had to dismantle the wiring of the underground facility when part of the site was being demolished. His account was that similar to mine of the underground rooms that were on the site. He told me that they had to chase all the wiring back because there were no plans available for release to show where the wiring went. He worked on the site for 3 months and found several sources of power that weren’t coming from the National grid.
For me this suggests a far larger facility that still maybe in use today and the possibility of a rail link from the site to somewhere like Liverpool. We must remember that Burtonwood was used in the 70’s & 80’s to store Nuclear Bombs for the cold war. This would mean an underground facility does exist and that a larger piece of the jigsaw than I and my friend seen remains today undetected.
My last experience of a large underground facility being a Burtonwood comes from an argument with a former American G.I who worked at the base. It was on a night shift at Royal Mail when a group of us were speaking about Burtonwood and I mentioned the time I went underground to pick the ice machine up. The American who I won’t mention by name started to become very aggressive towards us all and told us that in the 7 years that he worked at Burtonwood he never went underground. When one of the lads pointed out that the site was used for storing Nuclear Bombs and this was a known fact. The Former G.I again told us in an aggressive manner he never seen any Nuclear Bombs stored at the base. Again we reiterated that to store Nuclear Bombs that our government and his, would have made sure of an underground Facility was used to store these highly dangerous items. He then said something to us all that made us think that the underground site was bigger than any of us imagined. He stood up out of his chair and looked at us all, pointing his finger shouting this thing is bigger than all of you guys could imagine. Prompting one of the lads to point out he told us nothing was there only a few minutes before. He then snapped back saying I sore to my country I would never tell a soul.
People like to think things aren’t there. But when single facts are put together, things become much bigger than any of us could imagine. This was the biggest Military site in Europe, to think a underground railway could not be built in 50 years is laughable. We had more coal miners in a 20 mile radius of Warrington than most countries do now. So to do this was a easy task when you logically think about it.

What are your thoughts?
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby neileen » June 26th, 2011, 9:54 am

i think if local miners dug this tunnel, there would be sound evidence of a tunnel, miners were known to like a pint or two to wash the dust down,and some would tell you they needed more rinsing than others, and after a few rinses ,loosening of tongues takes place
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby Steven Dowd » June 26th, 2011, 10:16 am

Also

Local or national mining engineers would probably have warned against it, as there was major mining subsidence running right through the airport, so much so that the concrete runway between the concrete hangers and the end of the Hanger off Wrights Lane just by the small cottage was, between the mid 1970's and its removal a few years ago, buckled and broken with the two levels either side of the subsidence being at least 6 to 7 feet in difference between one side of the mining subsidence and the other, this known subsidence issue was one of the main reasons in the later 1960s used against Burtonwood being used as a alternative or replacement for expansion at Manchester airport which they were considering extending, Burtonwood at that time already had a longer main esrunway than Manchester, and they hadn't then built the M62 along it, after they constructed the M62 the subsidence across the old runway by Wrights lane was the cause of around 20 years of roadworks and levels problems done to the M62 at that point.

I do not think its impossible for underground areas to have existed, but so extensive as suggested, and the railway link, I just cannot see this as being true. Many of my family worked at the airbase, through the war years and after, they all lived local in Burtonwood itself, although US airforce people might have had to keep quiet, families talk, and no-one ever mentioned any under ground railways.

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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby RINGO22 » June 26th, 2011, 11:48 am

So can anyone explain how the Nuclear Bombs were stored. Remember it is a fact that the USAF used this site to store these weapons. They wouldn't of stored these in what effectively is a massive shed. An underground solid concrete structure must have been in place and remember these bombs would of have to have been moved by road or railway. There was no runway in use to transport them by plane. In regards to loose lips, the tunnel structures under Manchester built in the 1950's of which there are over 25 miles of were not made public until the late 1990's. It could be said the subsidence could be from the tunnelling of Burtonwood and underground track may have come out at one of the many regional tracks surrounding the area. I would like to think the logic behind the discussions makes perfect sense but we will always have doubters. 3 simple questions to ask;

1. How would the USAF fill all of storage facility without locals seeing lorry's coming and going on a regular basis?

2. Why store Nuclear weapons there when there was a facility at RAF Station Greenham Common?

3. Why did RAF Burtonwood exist for a further 30 years without a runway. (Surely it made sense to move storage of goods to a base with a runway)
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby Steven Dowd » June 26th, 2011, 12:27 pm

There was more than one runway at Burtonwood, the M62 only ran along the longest of them. The RAF used the base for many years for training flights, ( many people must remember the air cadets gliders swooping over them, just over the m62 on landings, and the traffic that used to stop at the side of the moterway to watch them landing, cannot see that happening nowadays)

Ringo wrote:Remember it is a fact that the USAF used this site to store these weapons.


Where have you seen this fact? I may be wrong, but I cannot say I have ever read anything official to say that they did store nuclear stuff at Burtonwood, I know in the later 1970s and early 1980s there were many protests at the site concerning missiles and the US being in the UK with nuclear stuff, I always thought the people were miss-guided in thinking that there was anything ever held at Burtonwood, not that I ever really searched on the subject, but as far as I was concerned, the place was for storage of parts, foods, vehicles, fuels, clothes stores etc etc, the warehouse as I heard was the largest single building area / roofed warehouse in the UK at one point.

I remember one particular morning, riding to Warrington from Burtonwood on a bike, 5:00am in the morning, very dark morning, and in really thick fog, I knew the road well, but even so, I was riding along the middle fo the road, just following the white line and cats eyes, no cars were ever out at that time, so i was kinda bombing along (parden the pun), I started to hear voices in the fog, couldnt place where the chants were coming from, they got loader and loader, then all of the sudden, i rode head long, full spead through what seemed like 200 protesters all stood outside the main number 13 gate, the main entrance to the storage facility, people were stodd all over the road, and amazingly i went straight through the lot of them, without hitting a single one, at the time, i didnt realise what was going on, it was only at work while telling everyone what had happened, that someone informed me about the protesters.

so to your questions...

1. How would the USAF fill all of storage facility without locals seeing lorry's coming and going on a regular basis?

The storage facility was filled at first by lorry, and transport plane, then also by train, but the trainline came on vai warrington, above ground.. I would think that the basis for the storage facility was I thing partly an extension to the existing facility due to the Berlin airlift, when Burtonwood was used massively, to transport goods into Berlin when it was blockaded in 1948/49.

2. Why store Nuclear weapons there when there was a facility at RAF Station Greenham Common?

I don't think they ever did store them at Burtonwood, maybe I am wrong, I am sure someone will find something to say otherwise if I am, as far as I amconcerned, in its later years, especially post M62 construction, most everything that went in and out of Burtonwood storage did so of Rail or Road, I have seen trains going past winwick, full end to end with military vehicles, which I presumed were going to Burtonwood, and many people must remember the car parking areas just inside the fence off the Burtonwood road, being full of vehicles, nose to tail, side by side, with no space at all to even slide between one to the other.

3. Why did RAF Burtonwood exist for a further 30 years without a runway. (Surely it made sense to move storage of goods to a base with a runway)

It was always a shadow of its former self after theM62 wasbuilt along the main runway, it wasmostly just helecopters going in and out, and lighter aircraft onto what was left of the runways, dacota sized, no larger, then there was also the training and cadet school, which made good use of the clear airspace, It was always a nice afternoons entertainment to go sit and watch them training, you could hear the instructor swearing at the lads as they flew overhead, warning them to land carefully, wings level, and don't bounce.

Many Navy places exist without water at all, so I don't see RAF Burtonwood existing with a main runway less as being an issue..

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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby carol Fahey » June 26th, 2011, 5:23 pm

Just been reading these posts with interest, my friend who was a fireman in the 70's had to some training at the base, he had to sign the 'Secret Act'.

I have just googled Burtonwood Airbase' there are loads of links and photos.
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Re: A Rail Tunnel from Burtonwood Air Base

Postby RINGO22 » June 26th, 2011, 8:10 pm

The secret act is a very powerful thing. At the highest employment of people RAF Burtonwood had 18,000 personnel situated there, many with stories of the goings on at the base. To believe not one of the 18,000 would say anything even if they signed the Official Secret Act is that of a mythical story. But if they are told that this would endanger the safety of the country and the war effort, this would mean the OSA would become more powerful than a gun at your head. People die with age, move on and only a few people stay to tell the stories of others. Burtonwood is effectively a forgotten story that has been lost in a short space of time. Believe what you may, but there is no smoke without fire and the point of Burtonwood was that of a well oiled machine that protects us at all costs. Governments do what they have to do to protect the people and the notation that the Largest Covered Military site in Europe in the cold war didn't have tunnels is ludicrous. Governments don't spend billions on defence to store boots, coats and cars in their biggest asset of the time; RAF Burtonwood.
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