The Secret Tunnels of South Heighton

The Cabins.  Before & After 2000.

These pictures show the Cabins area as found in 1993, and after clean-up by the Friends of HMS Forward.

Four cabins for 'personnel on night duty and split watches' were created in the south-west corner of the Operational Area, presumably for 'Chiefs' and 'Indians', male and female? Any remaining evidence to substantiate the alleged claim that these cabins were fitted out with bunk beds was destroyed by those intent on liberating the wooden battens that supported the tunnel lining. I must say "Hats off" to the guys who built the breeze block partitions that separate the cabins from the corridor. I have yet to see better craftsmanship anywhere. The finished block-work is plumb, flat and clean; you could hold a sheet of plate glass against it anywhere, and it would touch all over - remember, it was built in the dark, and it was built in a hurry.

The cabins were found littered with remnants of ripped plywood and torn mineral felt that had lain on the floor for five decades; so long in fact that the mineral felt had fused solidly to the flagstones. On top of this detritus were heaps of hardcore where breeze block partitions had been felled to facilitate retrieval of the precious wooden battens. The exposed battens were secured to the tunnel RSJs with some 3000 twists of galvanised wire; these were snipped and left hanging dangerously. These hazards were removed at the request of the local Fire Brigade who saw them as a significant potential threat to their Breathing Apparatus in the event of a call-out.

Along the corridor there are four entrances to the cabins; beyond the cabins are the plotting rooms, and in the far distance is the W/T or Radio room. The far end wall is 200 ft (61 M) away. On the left of the corridor are the unseen entrances to the TURCO, WRNS Mess Room, GPO VF Equipment, Teleprinter and Signals Distribution Offices.

One most noticeable point is the reduction in humidity due to the reduction of decaying rubbish strewn all over the floors that, as can be seen, are dust-dry now because of thermo-assisted air flow from the western entrance.


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All illustrations and text on this site are 1941-2021 Geoffrey Ellis, or The Friends of HMS Forward, or Nick Catford.