The Secret Tunnels of South Heighton

The Standby Engine Room & Annexe.  Before & After 2000.

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

The Standby Engine Room consists of two parts; that nearer the camera where the diesel engine, alternator, and control cubical stood, and the annexe beyond the doorway where the engine's radiator, silencer, and starter batteries were situated.

Nothing tangible remains to confirm the details of the standby generator used here, but a very similar sized outfit at Dover, consists of a JP Lister Diesel and a 400/230v 27.5KVA alternator. The generator set stood on anti-vibration mountings cast into the concrete plinth. The engine exhaust passed through a low-level hole in the wall into the annexe; the engine coolant flow and return pipes passed through the wall independently at high and low levels to connect with the fan-assisted radiator in the annexe. Air trunking along the right wall conveyed untreated air for cooling purposes. A control cubicle stood in the near right-hand corner of the room. This standby generator would have been routinely used during air raid alerts anywhere on the South Coast, as a precaution against public electricity failure due to enemy action.

No provision for bulk fuel storage existed on site. Forty-five-gallon oil drums were brought in and stood on end next to a hand-pump (the wooden mounting for which still exists on the left wall). A flexible pipe from the pump was inserted into the drum, and the fuel was transferred as required through the now dangling metal pipe into a small reservoir tank above the diesel engine.

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The engine room annexe contained the engine cooling radiator with an electric fan mounted on a concrete plinth, a large exhaust silencer, a starter battery and a battery charger. A 10.5 ins (27cm) diameter shaft in the ceiling conveyed both the hot air from the radiator and the engine exhaust fumes (in a separate 4 ins (10cm) diameter pipe) to the surface some 60 ft (18M) above. The door into the annexe had to be kept closed normally to prevent untreated air from entering the tunnel


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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.