Left: Many people will pass through the district of Edge Hill either above ground or underground, via its many miles of train tracks. But Edge Hill also holds many disused train tunnels that are only to be seen above ground by ventilation shafts dotted around the area. Many grand ideas have been given to put these tunnels back in to use, but nothing as yet have been formed. We see on the left, the new Range Rover Evoque making full use of the disused tunnel for their 'go anywhere' capability!
Below Left: While the Williamson's Tunnels have been dealt with on the Edge Hill History page, it is worth mentioning that the Tunnels still hold strange 'leftovers' from Williamson's era, from tunnels under St Mary's Church, the Bear's Paw, Paddington and Mason Street. We will look at the Heritage Centre below in more detail as well as rare glimpses of Edge Hill's former 'King's' footprint left behind for one to wonder and view.
St Mary's Church
Tel: 0151 7094434
St Anne's Catholic Primary School
Chatham Nursery School
Picton Children’s Centre
Tel: 0151 733 2899
Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels is a registered charity dedicated to the preservation and exploration of the Williamson Tunnels and to increasing knowledge of Joseph Williamson’s works.
We are managed by a Board of Trustees, which meets formally each month. We operate a number of sub-committees in accordance with those projects which are in progress at any one time.
We operate a membership scheme, whereby enthusiasts can enjoy a number of benefits while supporting the society. We have many hundreds of members from all around the world.
For more information on the Friends of Williamson's Tunnels, please find their official website link below.
St Mary's Church is usually passed without a second glance as one travels (now up!) and down Irvine Street. Even more so with the new road layout, St Mary's will be passed less and less due to the blocking off of the curved road on Towerlands Street. St Mary's was built on land owned by Edward Mason (of which Mason Street takes its name) and work started with the first stone being laid on January 14th 1812, and finally opened for devine service in March 14th 1813. It is a Grade II listed building and has an attractive interior including two William Morris windows and a recently restored condliff clock bearing an inscription with Edward Mason's name on.
The organ was built by Bewsher and Fleetwood of 1 Bronte Street, Liverpool and was installed during the ministry of the second person to be Vicar, Rev CL Swainson. Bewsher and Fleetwood had an excellent reputation, and were responsible for building some of the most notable organs of that period in Liverpool.
The Church also holds the oldest working clock in a Church in Liverpool. Commissioned by James Conliff in 1819, it is still in original condition and needs winding once a week. It has a 13 foot 2 second pendulum.
The organ has since been adapted to use an electronic pump but one can still see the long arm of the bellows situation at the base of the tower.
The Church also holds two bells, one 12cwt and one 4cwt and can be rung almost full circle.
The tower holds commanding views across all sides of Liverpool and beyond and we have reproduced pictures below of the best views.
Joseph Williamson, ‘The King of Edge Hill’ has been documented in the history page of Edge Hill on this website. For more information on the Williamson’s Tunnels, please click on the link at the top of the page. Williamson moved up to Mason Street in 1805 and began over 35 years of tunnelling underneath Edge Hill until his death in 1840. He left a historical legacy of tunnels below ground and some rare sights above ground, still shown to this day if you know where to look. A very brief intro to Williamson can be found in James Stonehouse’s script:
“While we are wandering in this neighbourhood there must not be forgotten a word or two about Mr. Joseph Williamson and his excavations at Edge-Hill. As I believe there is no authentic record of him, or of them, so far as I can recollect, a brief description of him.
His strange works may not be uninteresting to the old who have heard both spoken of and to the present generation who know nothing of their extent and his singularity. It certainly does appear remarkable, but it is a fact, that many people possess a natural taste for prosecuting underground works. There is so much of mystery, awe and romance in anything subterranean, that we feel a singular pleasure in instituting and making discoveries in it, and it is not less strange than true that those who once begin making excavations seem both to leave off. Mr. Williamson appears to have been a true troglodyte, one who preferred the Cimmerian darkness of his vaulted world, to the broad cheerful light of day. He spent the principal part of his time in his vaults and excavations, and literally lived in a cellar, for his sitting room was little else , being a long vault with a window at one end and his bedroom was a cave hollowed out at the back of it. In his cellar it was, that he dispensed his hospitalities, in no sparing manner, having usually casks of port and sherry on tap, and also a cask of London porter. Glasses were out of use with him. In mugs and jugs were the generous fluids drawn and drank. When Williamson made a man welcome that welcome was sincere.“ Stonehouse then makes a brief glimpse in to the tunnels:
"Could we draw aside the thick veil that hides the future from us, we might perhaps behold our great seaport swelling into a metropolis, in size and importance, its suburbs creeping out to an undreamt of distance from its centre; or we might, reversing the picture, behold Liverpool by some unthought-of calamity—some fatal, unforeseen mischance, some concatenation of calamities—dwindled down to its former insignificance: its docks shipless, its warehouses in ruins, its streets grass grown, and in its decay like some bye-gone cities of the east, that once sent out their vessels laden with “cloth of blue, and red barbaric gold.” Under which of these two fates will Liverpool find its lot some century’s hence?—which of these two pictures will it then present?
Be it one or the other, the strange undertakings of Joseph Williamson will perhaps, some centuries from now be brought again to light, and excite as much marvel and inquiry as any mysterious building of old, the purpose of which we do not understand, and the use of which we cannot now account for. They will be seemingly as meaningless as any lonely cairn, isolated broken pieces of wall, or solitary fragment of a building, of which no principal part remains, and which puzzles us to account for the present time. Now what will be said of these mining’s, subterranean galleries, vaults and arches, should they suddenly be discovered a century hence, when their origin shall have faded away into nothing like the vanishing point of the painter? I hardly know in what tense to speak of these excavations, not being aware in what state they are at present.
A strange place it is, or was. Vaulted passages cut out of the solid rock; arches thrown up by craftsmen’s hands, beautiful in proportion and elegant in form, but supporting nothing. Tunnels formed here—deep pits there. Yawning gulfs, where the fetid, stagnant waters threw up their baneful odours. Here the work is finished off, as if the mason had laboured with consummate skill to complete his work, so that all the world might see and admire, although no Human eyes, save those of the master’s, would ever be set upon it. Here lies the ponderous stone as it fell after the up heaving blast had dislodged it from its bed; and there, vaulted over, is a gulf that makes the brain dizzy, and strikes us with terror as we look down into it. Now we see an arch, fit to bridge a mountain torrent; and in another step or two we meet another, only fit to span a simple brook. Tiers of passages are met with, as dangerous to enter as they are strange to look at.
Tel: 07795 822 193