Yesterdays Twitter conversation took me back a few years. To a day when kids played out and explored. In approx 1985 when i went to Marple Hall School i used to get the bus back to Offerton from Stockport Road bus stop near the entrance to Hill Top Drive. Now, as they say boys will be boys. Whilst we were waiting for the bus the small group of lads that made the trip back to Offerton day after day got bored and as a consequence always seemed to end up throwing one another’s bags into the woods as the bus approached. Normally ending up you a) scampering back up the hill after gathering your bag to make the bus or b) Generally spending 3 minutes locating the bag before returning to the top of the hill and catching the NEXT bus !
However, one day my friends bag was subject to the ‘bag throw’ stunt which was still as funny as the day it started (even 2 years on). This time was different. He didn’t even attempt to ‘leg it’ back up the hill but shouted to us to come down the hill and miss the bus. “Heard that one before” was the Danny Makins reply. All for one and one for all we went down the hill. Not even bothered about the missing the bus. We weren’t sure what Tony had found but judging by his excitement is was worth missing the bus.
What Tony had found after all these years of our clowning around throwing bags down the hill was the best discovery of the Summer. A Concrete Bunker.
The Bunker had an opening of about 5ft high and 4ft wide, hidden in the hill side adjacent to the road. The walls of the entrance were about 3ft thick and solid. No door was on the front of the ‘bunker’. within seconds we were all inside stood up with a slight crouch in pitch darkness. In the far corners of the room were two small openings that were also rooms. The ‘bunker was bone dry and pitch black. We decided we needed to come back with torches. (Tunnel Rats were formed)
The next day we spoke to our friend at school who lived in the farm on the opposite side of the valley and told him our story. He quickly suggested we went back at weekend with his older brother who was known as a bit of a nutter.
Anyway, without going into detail, we met,we had torches, we had food, we had Walkie Talkies and we were the Tunnel Rats!
The first direction we went was the left room, this was a narrow tunnel that opened up to a bigger tunnel. (i won’t go into detail as you might want to discover yourself) but this tunnel comes out in the woods near to the old ruins at Marple Hall. along the way there was another tunnel to the left that on this occasion we didn’t venture down but was later confirmed to go down to the River on Dooley Lane.
On our second trip, down the ‘bunker’ we went right. again, this tunnel opened up and the first point of call was Rose Hill. The tunnel (if i remember correctly) popped out behind Middlewood way in a valley. Exactly opposite was the entrance to another tunnel that was overgrown but visible. Same style entrance in concrete. At this point myself and the lad who lived at the Farm decided to pull out. It was getting late and i had to get back, i remember my curfew time for tea was always 6pm then. The bizarre thing is we went back down the tunnel to the Stockport Road bus stop rather than using the road !
The other lads continued, all 4 of them, the ‘Tunnel Rats’ would report back. The next day my mother got a call from one of my friends parents who was quizzing her on my movements the day before. It turned out Danny and the others did not get home until 11pm and were covered in mud. Their parents were worried sick but didn’t know what to do, again, boys being boys back then we didn’t tell our parents what we were ‘really’ up to.
The ‘Tunnel Rats’ who ventured on came out at Roman Lakes. It took them hours to get to the end and were eventually worried and decided to call their parents from The Hall at Roman Lakes. Apparently (after speaking to my mum last night) the owner of The Hall was surprised to find 4 lads covered in mud stood at the front door so late at night. He decided to take them in and call their parents. You couldn’t begin to imagine the outfall from all this.
We had a huge bollocking as a group from all our parents on mass. We even had a lecture from the headteacher at Marple Hall and were ‘separated’ at a request from our parents.
I never went down that tunnel again. I wouldn’t even know where the other lads are nowadays, but what i do know is whatever the reason, they will remember ‘The Tunnel Rats’.
What i can tell you is this….. I would not of done this at my age now. And it is a memory that i won’t forget for possibly all the wrong reasons. I could only imagine what the PC brigade would make of it today!
For those who want to see/explore/frighten themselves, heres the map of the location of Tunnel 1.
The enterance is approx 30-40ft down the embankment dug in to the valley on the road side. It is directly behind the area designated for the workmen of Dan Bank where all the equipment is stored behind the green fence.
This is where the old bus stop used to be.