The Williamson Tunnels
August 2, 2005 7:21 PM   Subscribe

The Williamson Tunnels "The explanation most commonly offered [for the construction of the tunnels] is that having risen from humble beginnings, the rich retired merchant was touched by the poverty which pervaded the Edge Hill district and offered construction labour to the unemployed as a gesture of generosity"
posted by dhruva (10 comments total)
Totally cool. Got to get me a shovel and get to work in the basement. Of course, I will call before I dig...
posted by Windopaene at 8:59 PM on August 2, 2005

If he asked me to move a pile of bricks back where I had just moved it from, I would probably kill him regardless of any financial reimbursement.
posted by Mephistopheles at 9:04 PM on August 2, 2005

Providing seemingly meaningless employment at the bottom after a war...or was it on-the-job training ?

either way, [this is good].

Many of Williamson's men, of course, became highly skilled as they served their apprenticeships on his tunnels. It is highly likely that at least some of them were recruited by the rail engineers from the 1830s onwards.

Williamson died, aged 70, on 1st May 1840, by a quirk of chronology what would become International Workers Day. The cause of death was given as water on the chest. Seventy was a ripe old age at that time and his life was no doubt lengthened by his active lifestyle. The tunnelling stopped immediately and was never continued.

posted by HyperBlue at 9:29 PM on August 2, 2005

This reminds me much of the Winchester Mystery House.
The heir to the Winchester rifle estate, Sarah Winchester built this house, and added on, and added on.
She had a whole army of construction workers, that she paid double normal wages, to keep building.
She was running from the ghosts of all those killed by the rifles.
I've visited the house, and it it quite bizarre.
No two rooms are on the same level, there's either a couple steps up, or down. Everything was finely furnished, velvet wallpaper, ornate fireplaces, marble floors, and then she would tear out a wall and go up three steps, for another room.

If any of the workers even made a suggestion, she would fire them. It must be nice to go batshit insane with a lot of money.
posted by Balisong at 10:32 PM on August 2, 2005

I visited the Williamson Tunnels a couple of years ago - fascinating stuff. They only have a small area open to the public, but I gather they go on for miles and supposedly extend right underneath the city. I seem to recall some story about Williamson holding a huge dinner for all the local bigwigs in the tunnel; at first he put out normal workers' food, at which point a lot of people just left. Then, when those people had gone, he served the *real food* to the decent people who'd stayed, and they probably all had a great time.
posted by adrianhon at 1:47 AM on August 3, 2005

I've got to visit those. Cheers!
posted by handee at 1:56 AM on August 3, 2005

Another excellent post dhruva. I'm surprised I'd never heard of these tunnels. I'd love to go there. Cheers.
posted by peacay at 3:22 AM on August 3, 2005

Gee, maybe there is something to see in Liverpool, after all.
posted by Goofyy at 3:53 AM on August 3, 2005

This is a pretty cool story, not only do the tunnels themselves seem cool (and someplace I'd like to see), but Williamson seems like a wierd guy who would be cool to know.
posted by OmieWise at 8:30 AM on August 3, 2005

how weird. thanks, dhruva.
posted by amberglow at 7:00 PM on August 3, 2005

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