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The Secret WWII Tunnels of Tranmere

Tranmere contains one of the largest and most expensive WWII air raid shelters in the country. It consists of a series of tunnels stretching to a total length of 6500ft and was designed to house up to 6000 people (many of them workers at the strategically important Cammell Laird shipyard) - however by the time they were completed, they were no longer needed as the threat of invasion has diminished. The tunnels were later used by the Ministry of food for storage, and were considered as a nuclear fallout shelter during the cold war era. The tunnels were finally sealed off in 1989 amid growing H&S concerns. The tunnels still exist however and building work in 2008 uncovered a shaft - allowing temporary exploration of them, before being sealed off again and was not re-opened until January 2015. Here is a collection of original photographs from members of the Hidden Wirral Myths & Legends Faebook Group. Wouldn't it be great if these tunnels became a museum and part of our important heritage, to show off to the rest of the world? But for now all we can provide you with is pictures. With thanks to T.C & Degenatron for the extra pictures.


HWUE Team Jan 2015


Air raid shelters were built specifically to serve as protection against enemy air raids. However, pre-existing edifices designed for other functions, such as underground stations (tube or subway stations), tunnels, cellars in houses or basements in larger establishments, and railway arches above ground, were suitable for safeguarding people during air raids. A commonly used home shelter was known as the Anderson shelter which would be built in a garden and equipped with beds as a refuge from air raids. The Tranmere Tunnels were unique and would survive better than any other shelter, due to the level in which the tunnels were constructed.


Old air-raid shelters, such as the Anderson, can still be found in back gardens, in which they are commonly used as sheds, or (on the roof which is covered with earth) as vegetables patches. Some are left empty or are filled with debris.


Countries that have kept air-raid shelters intact and in ready condition include Switzerland, Spain and Finland.

Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 17 October 1940




An intimation that the punishment for rowdyism in public shelters would increase was made by the chairman at the Birkenhead Police Court yesterday when Harold Boothroyd, aged 20. apprentice fitter, of 89 Peel Street. Tranmere. was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for disorderly behaviour. Boothroyd was sent to prison for fourteen days for this offence and for a month with hard labour for assaulting a woman in the shelter, the sentences to run concurrently. Boothroyd’s brother. Douglas, aged 18. also apprentice fitter, was fined £2 for disorderly behaviour. It was stated that the two brothers wore part of gang of youths who created disturbance in a public shelter and when they were spoken to by air raid warden about their behaviour they threatened the warden, who called in the police. Constable Birch went into the shelter and found, the Boothroyds with other youths and girls jostling one another. At his approach the youths scattered. Later they were pointed gut by Warden Jones, who told the officer that he had threatened by the brothers. When a woman. Miss Eleanor Ellams. added that she had heard the youths threaten the warden, Harold Boothroyd struck her and she would have fallen but for another woman. The shelter was crowded with people, many of whom were women and children, the latter being unable to get any rest owing to the disturbance caused by the youths. Both brothers denied that they were responsible for the disturbance, but Harold Boothroyd admitted that he pushed Miss Ellams. denying the allegation that he struck her. The Chairman. Mr. A. A. Fisk, in announcing the decision of the magistrates, stated they intended to stop hooliganism in the shelters.


Accessed 21st March 2018