As most people are probably aware the chalk under this area and particularly Ramsgate is riddled with tunnels some dating back to prehistoric times.
We have a long history of tunnelling. The earliest written record of the chalk caves in this area, that I can find, is in Leland’s Itinerary, he visited East Kent in the early 1500s. ‘There is a Cave wher Men have sowt and digged for Treasure. I saw yt by Candel withyn and there were Conys. Yt was so straite that I had no mynd to crepe far yn.’
By straite he would have meant narrow.
The main tunnel system in the town started as the railway tunnel to the sands station opened in 1863as you can imagine I publish a book about the history of the Ramsgate railways click here for sample pages from it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the sands station click here for some pictures of it.
This tunnel closed for main line traffic in 1926 a spur tunnel was dug to Hereson Road for a narrow gauge electric railway between Dumpton Park station and the main sands this opened in 1936 this ran until 1965 only closing for WW2.
The main expansion was in WW2 when a great more tunnelling was done to provide the town with an airraid shelter system, as you can imagine I publish a book about the tunnels click here for sample pages.
As a youth in Ramsgate in the 60s before the entrances were sealed I like many others explored the tunnel system.
Talking to some of the youth of today, today I gathered two things of note, firstly that several of the entrances are open at the moment and it is possible for them to get in, this is a fairly regular occurrence and I believe always will be.
All of the youth of Ramsgate know that there is this huge tunnel system to explore, parts of it have become dangerous which makes it even more attractive, from personal experience I can tell you that the biggest danger down there is running out of light.
The other thin of note is that workmen are working down in the tunnels and the rumour is that there is going to be some sort of gun range down there.
Two thoughts here the first being that the tunnel system is a considerable potential tourist attraction and the second that if they intend to keep firearms down there the problem would be that the tunnels are impossible to secure.