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Soooo, is there a Tower-Winter Gardens tunnel?

Tangojoe

Well-known member
People in Blackpool have argued for decades about the existence of an underground tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens. Some swear it exists, others deny such a thing.

Blackpool Council say “We’re aware of rumours surrounding the existence of a tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens, but there is no evidence of such a tunnel ever existing and nothing in the planning archives.”

However, photographer Mel Jones said he was an extra many years ago in a film about Rudolph Valentino, part of which was filmed in the Tower Circus. He claimed the cast of around 200 was taken for lunch in top hat and tails through a tunnel from the Tower Circus to the Winter Gardens. He said the entrance was under the Circus stalls but was bricked up many years ago. The film archives confirm his description of the date of filming and the number of actors.

Blackpool historians Ted Lightbown, Robert Leach and David Wall all state that no tunnel between Winter Gardens and the Tower exists. All of them have thoroughly investigated the claim of its existence and point out that the two complexes were operated by rival companies.

Another person claimed that in the early 1970s he delivered goods to the Tower and was taken downstairs near the feet of the Tower through a door along the tunnel which came up near the main doors at the top of Victoria Street, inside the Winter Gardens and then went back down again. It wasn’t straight, but a curved tunnel made with brick and a flagged floor.

Local historian Nick Moore says “The tunnel between the Palace (on the promenade) and the Tower is the only proven tunnel in Blackpool designed for people to move through.

Looks like someone is telling porkies.

 
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Sooty59

Well-known member
I remember seeing Nureyev warming up in the ballroom as I was an apprentice there at the time this film was made & as I've said in past posts the only tunnel that existed to my knowledge, linked the then demolished Palace Theatre & I've seen where it was bricked up in the cellars under the Tower Lounge. I also remember seeing the extras in full costume trouping down Victoria St from the Gardens.
 

Davepick

Well-known member
I've certainly never heard of a tunnel from Tower to Gardens.
I'm sure I would have known if it was true.
 

Bend it like Suddick

Well-known member
I remember seeing Nureyev warming up in the ballroom as I was an apprentice there at the time this film was made & as I've said in past posts the only tunnel that existed to my knowledge, linked the then demolished Palace Theatre & I've seen where it was bricked up in the cellars under the Tower Lounge. I also remember seeing the extras in full costume trouping down Victoria St from the Gardens.
Correct
 

Bottle

Well-known member
I worked at the Tower for 4 seasons (92-96) whilst a student, we used to go in the staff entrance on Bank Hey St and downstairs to get changed. When working on the bars in the Tower Lounge we went underground via the Tower Circus where there was a tunnel area that circled the circus ring. One side was where they used to keep the animals and it still stank of them even though it had been a few years since they had been occupied.

The other side was the changing rooms for the performers, all underground so no windows and it was very gloomy, and a bit scary when Mooky or one of the other clowns loomed out of the darkness.

There was definitely a tunnel that led off from the circus vaults that was never lit but headed off into the darkness and the direction of the Winter Gardens, I can’t say if it connected or not as I never ventured down it but it certainly went off some distance.

I also had occasion to work a few times at the Winter Gardens - same owners at time so we filled in at events like the Young Farmers for some overtime - but they had the same underground set-up for staff as the Tower and they had tunnels/corridors leading off in a few directions, but not bring as familiar with the Winter Gardens my sense of direction was not as good.

I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a connecting tunnel to be honest as it would have made sense for there to have been one.
 

Bend it like Suddick

Well-known member
Just out of interest, I would have thought a tunnel/complex would have been exposed when the Hounds Hill foundations etc were being laid.

Likewise it would have been highly unlikely major buildings being constructed over open tunnels.
 
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Sooty59

Well-known member
As the Winter gardens opened about 16 years before the Tower I rather doubt someone thought lets put a tunnel towards the sea. Plus they were owned by different companies until 1928 I just learnt.
 

Sooty59

Well-known member
I worked at the Tower for 4 seasons (92-96) whilst a student, we used to go in the staff entrance on Bank Hey St and downstairs to get changed. When working on the bars in the Tower Lounge we went underground via the Tower Circus where there was a tunnel area that circled the circus ring. One side was where they used to keep the animals and it still stank of them even though it had been a few years since they had been occupied.

The other side was the changing rooms for the performers, all underground so no windows and it was very gloomy, and a bit scary when Mooky or one of the other clowns loomed out of the darkness.

There was definitely a tunnel that led off from the circus vaults that was never lit but headed off into the darkness and the direction of the Winter Gardens, I can’t say if it connected or not as I never ventured down it but it certainly went off some distance.

I also had occasion to work a few times at the Winter Gardens - same owners at time so we filled in at events like the Young Farmers for some overtime - but they had the same underground set-up for staff as the Tower and they had tunnels/corridors leading off in a few directions, but not bring as familiar with the Winter Gardens my sense of direction was not as good.

I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a connecting tunnel to be honest as it would have made sense for there to have been one.
It's been a while (I left in 1981), but casting my mind back at cellar level & approaching the circus ring from the South on the LHS was where I had a closeish encounter with an elephant & if you went to the right yes that's were the dressing rooms were, there was a space at the North & South sides where some of the water feature props were stored & at the North the beer cellars went off to the right from there & under the Lounge all whitewashed walls & similar at the Gardens, quite a rabbit warren. I got to go to a few reunions with some of the old timers before Covid put a stop to them & we keep trying to get one of the current employees to organise a trip down memory lane, as it would be really good to have a mooch around & see how much I could remember, I'd bet not that much has changed in those areas. Perhaps next year.
 

TOON Seasider

Well-known member
Definitely NO tunnel !
I worked for First Leisure Corporation from 1983 to 1989 as operations manager at the Tower and then moved to the Winter Gardens / Opera House, again as operations manager. It's a myth there is NO tunnel joining the two buildings.
 
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premierdream2010

Well-known member
People in Blackpool have argued for decades about the existence of an underground tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens. Some swear it exists, others deny such a thing.

Blackpool Council say “We’re aware of rumours surrounding the existence of a tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens, but there is no evidence of such a tunnel ever existing and nothing in the planning archives.”

However, photographer Mel Jones said he was an extra many years ago in a film about Rudolph Valentino, part of which was filmed in the Tower Circus. He claimed the cast of around 200 was taken for lunch in top hat and tails through a tunnel from the Tower Circus to the Winter Gardens. He said the entrance was under the Circus stalls but was bricked up many years ago. The film archives confirm his description of the date of filming and the number of actors.

Blackpool historians Ted Lightbown, Robert Leach and David Wall all state that no tunnel between Winter Gardens and the Tower exists. All of them have thoroughly investigated the claim of its existence and point out that the two complexes were operated by rival companies.

Another person claimed that in the early 1970s he delivered goods to the Tower and was taken downstairs near the feet of the Tower through a door along the tunnel which came up near the main doors at the top of Victoria Street, inside the Winter Gardens and then went back down again. It wasn’t straight, but a curved tunnel made with brick and a flagged floor.

Local historian Nick Moore says “The tunnel between the Palace (on the promenade) and the Tower is the only proven tunnel in Blackpool designed for people to move through.

Looks like someone is telling porkies.

I was an extra in that film Valentino with my wife. Yes we were all dressed up in period dress and when we went for lunch in the Winter Gardens we all walked up the road amongst the shoppers. Loads of people were looking and wondering what was going on.
 

premierdream2010

Well-known member
Definitely NO tunnel !
I worked for First Leisure Corporation from 1983 to 1987 as operations manager at the Tower and then moved to the Winter Gardens / Opera House, again as operations manager. It's a myth there is NO tunnel joining the two buildings.
I actually also worked in the tower and the circus for a while as well as being in that film reference my earlier post. I think I would have known if there had been a tunnel. I was working there early seventies.
 

todayistheday

Well-known member
Tunnels galore, its like a mini london underground,how else did Thatcher get from the Winter Gardens to the Imperial and then to her not so secret hideaway the River House at Skipool Creek, where HMS Illustrious was anchored on the River Wyre.
 

Davepick

Well-known member
It's true 😁

One huge failing in this crap is 'The Law Courts'.
These tunnels are supposed to be in the 20thC. The Law courts then were South King St.
It's a load of codswallop.
 

Curryman

Well-known member
People in Blackpool have argued for decades about the existence of an underground tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens. Some swear it exists, others deny such a thing.

Blackpool Council say “We’re aware of rumours surrounding the existence of a tunnel between the Tower and the Winter Gardens, but there is no evidence of such a tunnel ever existing and nothing in the planning archives.”

However, photographer Mel Jones said he was an extra many years ago in a film about Rudolph Valentino, part of which was filmed in the Tower Circus. He claimed the cast of around 200 was taken for lunch in top hat and tails through a tunnel from the Tower Circus to the Winter Gardens. He said the entrance was under the Circus stalls but was bricked up many years ago. The film archives confirm his description of the date of filming and the number of actors.

Blackpool historians Ted Lightbown, Robert Leach and David Wall all state that no tunnel between Winter Gardens and the Tower exists. All of them have thoroughly investigated the claim of its existence and point out that the two complexes were operated by rival companies.

Another person claimed that in the early 1970s he delivered goods to the Tower and was taken downstairs near the feet of the Tower through a door along the tunnel which came up near the main doors at the top of Victoria Street, inside the Winter Gardens and then went back down again. It wasn’t straight, but a curved tunnel made with brick and a flagged floor.

Local historian Nick Moore says “The tunnel between the Palace (on the promenade) and the Tower is the only proven tunnel in Blackpool designed for people to move through.

Looks like someone is telling porkies.

I was assistant manager at the Carlton Hotel in the late sixties early seventies and. Know nothing about the tunnel under the hotel. Where did it pump sea water to i wonder?
 

TheMighty

Well-known member
Worked at the Winter Gardens early 80s and you could hear the lions roaring at feeding time,loads of tunnels with blocked up doorways etc below the Spanish bar area
 

Scratcher53

Well-known member
Deffo tunnel. Mother used to work Spanish hall for many years in 1960s, tending to summer season artists like Cliff Richards. She been down tunnel between tower and winter gardens and can also remember that sections of the giant Ferris wheel were stored down there. She is 90 now but last year when promenade was closed opposite central pier, she was adamant that there was a tunnel from what used to be the underground toilets there to near South pier and that was what the council were working on.
 

Sooty59

Well-known member
I never saw anything whilst I worked there, but as this thread is still chugging along I’ve consulted my elders who used to work there for much longer than me. I’ll post again when I get a reply.
 

Trammo

Well-known member
Stalag Luft 6B 1942 Pimmelkopf Germany. British escape officer Taffy Lamb and his tunnel diggers calculate the distance from the tunnel entrance to beyond the camp fences into the woods. Before doing the maths they quaff copious amounts of potato vodka brewed by Flying Officer Spoony Wethers then get the measurement out by over a thousand kilometres. By 1953 they break through to the tower just in time to see the BFC players on the coach parading the FA Cup along the prom. Happy days !👍
 
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CCFskiver

Well-known member
It's been a while (I left in 1981), but casting my mind back at cellar level & approaching the circus ring from the South on the LHS was where I had a closeish encounter with an elephant & if you went to the right yes that's were the dressing rooms were, there was a space at the North & South sides where some of the water feature props were stored & at the North the beer cellars went off to the right from there & under the Lounge all whitewashed walls & similar at the Gardens, quite a rabbit warren. I got to go to a few reunions with some of the old timers before Covid put a stop to them & we keep trying to get one of the current employees to organise a trip down memory lane, as it would be really good to have a mooch around & see how much I could remember, I'd bet not that much has changed in those areas. Perhaps next year.
What’s that Skippy????... an elephant???? loose???? in the tunnel???? Here, look after my pies while I get help !!! 🦘🦘🦘
 

Sooty59

Well-known member
😀 👍 Happy New Year P, have a great evening - we started with a couple (3 actually) of organic lagers in the Bispham Hotel earlier on. I expect we will be in bed by 9 😎 🧀
Happy new year to you too, we're not out tonight, first time since last NYE 🙄 went out last night for a family meal & beers.
 

Tangojoe

Well-known member
Good find Mac. It's a fascinating building and anyone who hasn't been on a guided tour should do so. As for the tunnal, it doesn't look like there is one.
 

TOON Seasider

Well-known member
Worked for First Leisure Corporation as operations manager at the Tower in the early 80s then moved on to the Winter Gardens / Opera House in the late 80s again as operations manager. There is NO TUNNEL !
 

1966_and_all_that

Well-known member
As the Winter gardens opened about 16 years before the Tower I rather doubt someone thought lets put a tunnel towards the sea. Plus they were owned by different companies until 1928 I just learnt.
Exactly. It's nonsense, they were competitors, not partners.
 
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