The Secret Tunnels of South Heighton

The Galley & Toilets.  Before & After 2000.

These pictures show the scene beyond the Western Airlock as found in 1993, and after clean-up by the Friends of HMS Forward.

This shows the scene beyond the western airlock with the two toilets (left) and galley (right). The three air ducts' trunking rise from below floor level having passed beneath the airlock inner door and the accesses to the aforementioned toilets and galley room. The far ends of the trunking turn left into the air conditioning room and right into the engine room respectively. Further on the tunnel bears right to enter the main Operational Area. The walls of this part of the Operational Area (except the galley on the extreme right) were not lined, so these views would be very representative of its wartime appearance (minus the rust, of course!).

The toilets simply consisted of two Elsan Chemical Toilet cubicles without washing facilities. It is understood they were reserved for use only if the Operational Area had to be secured in a dire emergency. No veteran that I communicated with was aware of these toilets; although many remembered and described 'the long walk to the western entrance passing through airlock doors and security gates' where there were proper water closets in an external toilet block above the roadside pillbox - a journey 'for which time had to be allowed...'.

A severed lead cold water supply pipe and two adjacent 18 ins (45 cm) square pits (connected below floor level) capable of holding 50 gallons (225 litres) of 'grey water' were discovered in the galley. One pit had a wooden frame with a perforated zinc bottom for filtering-out solids. As there was no main drainage in the tunnel, the pits would have needed to be emptied manually at regular intervals. This chamber was the only one lined with mineral felt and white-washed plywood at this end of the Operational Area. A painted line on the floor suggests division of the galley for either officers/ratings or navy/army. It was reported there was only provision for heating water to make drinks. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the Wrens abandoned this room post 1943 after the introduction of a Wrens Mess Room elsewhere in the Operational Area.

The galley was ventilated and heated by way of a small under-floor duct from the near-by air conditioning plant.


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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.