The Williamson Tunnels are a series of extensive subterranean excavations, of unknown purpose, in Edge Hill area of Liverpool, England. They are thought to have been owned and operated under the direction of tobacco merchant, landowner and philanthropist Joseph Williamson between 1810 and 1840.
Although, popularly described as “tunnels”, the majority consist of brick or stone vaulting over excavations in the underlying sandstone. The purpose of the works remains unclear and it remains a subject of heavy speculation; suggestions include commercial quarrying, a philanthropic wish to provide employment, and Williamson’s own eccentric interests.
After being gradually infilled with rubble and spoil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they remained largely inaccessible until archaeological investigations were carried out in 1995. Since then volunteers have rediscovered and excavated a wide network of tunnels, chambers and voids across several sites, with sections open to the public. Guided tour is available at the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre and the Friends Of Williamson’s Tunnels, and excavation continues as volunteers continue to uncover new sections.
Many of the tunnels in Williamson still exist today and one small section has been renovated and is possible to visit. Through the Williamson Tunnels Heritage Centre, you can get 45 minutes guided tour through the only section of the network open and safe for the public. There is a small gallery of artifacts and historical items that you can see in the tunnels. Tours are available between 10:30am-4pm Thursday through Sunday.
Tours cannot be pre-booked but they say the most you will wait for one to start is 20 mins, so make yourselves known and then have a look around for a bit! Sensible shoes and generally sensible clothes should be worn to descend into the depths, but although hard hats are provided, the whole area is reassuringly safe and well lit.