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Secret Stourbridge: The Hidden Tunnels of King Edwards College

Tunnels beneath Stourbridge ring road

Stourbridge.com was invited to visit the tunnels on Thursday 20 Nov 08, please see our photos below. Our view is that it's a great shame they have to be filled in, albeit only with sand (see Dudley MBC's official response) Please scroll down the page for views on the tunnels

Click map for larger version, more photos below text

Tunnel entrance Main entrance Brick lined in parts Main central tunnel Vertical shaft Crystal clear water
Worn steps The way out Typcial branch tunnel All mod cons! The main tunnel More tunnels!

Many thanks to Stourbridge resident Chris Armfield for supplying the additional photos below. The local authority is threatening to fill these tunnels in, yet they are prepared to spend a fortune on Dudley's underground heritage, so why not Stourbridge as well? Chris says:

"Stourbridge, the once beautiful and idyllic market town on the edge of the Black Country still has a draw to people outside it's borders. Most of our architectural excellence unfortunately has been demolished allegedly to progress, but you can still see a few gems in and around the Town.But there is a hidden gem or should I say gold mine and it's right beneath your feet ! I refer to the miles of tunnel and cave systems that criss cross the town underground and beyond, a veritable labyrinth that our ancestors used day in, day out. These tunnels and caves are of great historic importance as they may date back as far as the countries religious wars and definitely the English Civil War.They were also used during the First and Second World Wars.
I believe and many others do, that they are worth saving and an ideal use would be to make them a great tourist attraction which is something we could do with. This would enhance the Towns claim to being "The Historic Town of Stourbridge". But alas Dudley Council would rather fill them in with concrete, thus losing our Towns heritage forever and enforcing the idea that Dudley is the only place with a heritage and it's many attractions. If you agree that these tunnels and caves should be saved, please make your comment and help save a very interesting part of our Heritage. Here are a few photographs of what lies beneath this Historic Town.....
"

Please support us in our campaign to preserve this unique piece of Stourbridge history by sending your email of support. Before doing so however we urge you to read the message from Dudley Council - see link below. Scroll down below the photos to see messages. Thank you

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM DUDLEY COUNCIL - 20th October '08

Absolutely fascinated by the hidden tunnels and would have loved the opportunity to visit them. I have recently researched my family history and untill the beginning of the last century they lived in Stourbridge and surrounding villages for centuries. This is definitely a heritage site and I fel sad that this amazing opportunity to show something of the history of the area and tell the story of its people will be lost. I do feel that this will be a regrettable decision for future generations. Please don't fill them in and please inform me if they become open to the public. J. Wall, St Albans (Rec'd 22 Apr 09)

Please add my name to your list. I too had not heard of these caves and lived in Stourbridge all my life.A lot more questions need to be asked of Dudley Council and the answers made public.They would make a fantastic tourist attraction and form an important part of our heritage. 
Bryan Duckhouse, Wollaston. (Rec'd 15 Nov 08)

Hi, it's a must that these tunnels are preserved. Have you ever heard of the Wiliamson tunnels in Liverpool? They posed a similar problem for the people who wanted to keep the large amount of excavations but they succeeded and now the tunnels are now a tourist attraction so it can be done. Its up to us to convince the Council that they are doing away with an asset to a town which should be proud of its heritage. There are also the tunnels and cellars in Notingham which are also seen as a valuable way of attracting people to the town.As a director of the Shropshire Mines Trust I also know the interest people have in all aspects of mining and tunnels as witness by the large numbers of visitors we have on Heritage Days who flock to our mine in Snailbeach Shropshire So Keep up the fight and do not let them destroy what is an important part of our history
Regards, Edwin Thorpe. (Rec'd 15 nov 08)

I can't believe that the council would consider filling the caverns with tons of sand more cost effective than shoring them up and making them into a successful tourist attraction which would then pay for itself and probably make a profit! Just goes to show how small minded councillors can be.... don't suppose one of them owns a sand quarry in the area or runs a haulage company?Good luck with your battle.... Paddi Hutchings Clarke, Bournemouth (Rec'd 1 Nov 08)

Please do not fill in the tunnels, save them for future generations. They look fascinating, and I would definitely visit Stourbridge in order to see them. Swithun Goodbody (Rec'd 1 Nov 08)

I have lived in Stourbridge all of my life and I did not know of these tunnels, our local heritage is important and our past should be preserved. I can only assume dudley want to fill these caves/tunnels in before Stourbridge people hear of it. If there is a petition or similar I would like to add my name to it. Clive Porter (Rec'd 17th Oct 08)

Hi,.I was in Worcester Street surgery this morning and over heard a gentleman talking about the imminent loss of the Stourbridge caves.I was outraged to hear that Dudley Council was about to waste
millions of tax payers money concreting the caves up for no good reason and without consulting the people of Stourbridge, who, I for one knew nothing of their existence! The caves plight should be plastered across the front pages of the local news papers alerting people to what is going on. Is this going to be done, and is the college doing anything about the situation? This action by Dudley must be stopped immediately, is there someone in the council I can contact to voice my concerns, I really would like to speak with the person responsible for this idiotic decision? If they are allowed to get away with this it would be a complete and utter disaster, our heritage needs saving not destroying, why on earth are they not turning it into a tourist attraction which would benefit all concerned?
Yours deeply concerned, Debbie Thomson and family. (Rec'd 14 Oct 08)

"Many thanks to Chris Armfield for his feature on the tunnels beneath King Edwards College and Stourbridge Town centre, the photographs are very impressive. Thanks also to stourbridge.com.
Personally, I feel that the Dudley proposal to fill in the tunnels with concrete should be opposed at this time. It should be opposed until the people of Stourbridge have been fully informed and consulted on the reasoning behind the proposal.
Be it concerns over yet to be explained public safety or planning issues, anticipated practical difficulties, or simply the usual cost considerations, the local residents have a right to know. Dudley must not be allowed to destroy what are seen by Chris and others as 'features of local historic importance' without consultation and public discussion.
An independent survey should be commissioned by Dudley and a comprehensive report produced. The report should be published in full for public scrutiny. Only then can any considerations that the tunnels could become a tourist attraction be fully and fairly debated."
John Shepherd, Oldswinford (Rec'd 7 Oct 08)

"Please don't fill in the tunnels under KE" Mary McGrath (Rec'd 7 Oct 08)

"I, along with many others would love to see these tunnels and cave system. Dont fill them in, make them safe for public use. Let us all enjoy them!!!!!!!!!! Please add my name to any petition to stop the tunnels being filled in. Thanks, Dave Tutty
P.S. let me know if and when the tunnels are to be opened up. (Rec'd 7 Oct 08)"

"Our heritage is of vital importance, preserve it!" Steve Mitchell (Rec'd 1 Oct 08)

"I, like so many others I'm sure did not know about these tunnels, despite many freinds and family all going to the grammar school. It seems,like everything else of historic importance in Stourbridge is just being thrown away without a care for others in the area. I for one would love to see the tunnels kept and fully restored for all to see. Don't let Stourbridge's history disappear, it would be a great shame. Regards, Martin Bills" (Rec'd 30 Sep 08)

"Please don't fill the caves in! I've lived in Stourbridge for over ten years yet never heard of these wonderful caves... why aren't they made more known to the public? They should be advertised, I'm sure it would bring tourism and interest to the area. Please please please let them be! I'd absolutely LOVE to see them! Hayley Sanghera" (Rec'd 29 Sep 08)

"I never realised there were tunnels underneath King Edwards College. I would love to see them and I am sure that I am not the only one. It would be a travesty to fill them in when they are so significant to the history of the town. Stourbridge needs more places of interest like this, I would be happy to sign any petition you have, yours sincerely, D" (Rec'd 19 Sep 08)

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