Ramsgate air raid tunnels

In 1863 an extension from the Margate train terminal was run to Ramsgate harbour. The last section of this train line ran through a tunnel from Dumpton gap to the seafront terminus. The tunnel is still in place to date and runs for 0.6 miles. The railway extension proved to be a huge success until 1926 when it was shut down and a new line ran inland for 1 mile to the railway station close to Ramsgate town. Soon after, the tracks were lifted and Pleasureland purchased the remaining station building and opened a fun fair. They soon wanted to expand and utilize the now disused train tunnel and so opened the scenic railway which ran to a new terminus at Hereson Road. The tunnel was utilized for this railway and a narrow gauge spur was constructed to link the south portal entrance to the Hereson Road terminus in 1936. The scenic railway was shut down in 1939 at the outbreak of WW2. The tunnel was now utilized again and due to the fact Ramsgate was built upon a bed of chalk the tunnel was extended into a large network of air raid tunnels. The Ramsgate deep level air raid shelters became one of the most extensive networks of tunnels in the UK. The original 0.6 mile tunnel was now connected to the further 3.25 miles of newly constructed tunnels branching out across Ramsgate. In total the air raid construction work cost a huge 54,000 pounds. The deepest point of the tunnel system reaches 90 feet in depth, toilets and first aid points were installed throughout the tunnels by making use of the regular recesses. Seating was available for up to 35,000 people but the total system of tunnels could easily accommodate for up to 60,000. Throughout the tunnels were 10 ventilation shafts and 10 public entrances. An entrance from Ramsgate hospital was later opened for easy access with patients. This meant that there were a total of 11 entrances to the tunnels. These tunnels are now disused and forgotten by many. Over the years various downfalls have meant that the network had been divided into four sections. A water pipe was later installed by the council to provide fresh water and disposal of used water to the Newington housing estate. This means that a section of the tunnels locally known as the Ellington park section is now non-existent other than a large pipe. This pipe runs through two other sections but they are still accessible to date. There are now three sections, Cannon road section, Westcliff section and the main tunnel section. For the last two years we have worked hard on trying to document this vast network of passages and show a hidden past of Ramsgate. The law wasnt on our side proving to be a major deterrent on many occasions whilst trying to access the tunnels. Eventually we have managed to put together a collection of photos from every remaining section of the underground history of Ramsgate known as the Scenic Railway and air raid tunnels.
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