Location, Location, Location #23

Location No 23 – Basements and tunnels beneath Liverpool

Welcome to the latest stop on our literary tour through the pages of my novels. This week you’re going to need your hard hats as we venture into the mysterious network of tunnels and basements built beneath the fine city of Liverpool. These fictional tunnels from You’ll Never Walk Alone, are partly based on fact, although I embellished the extent of the network for the sake of the story.

When I was initially rummaging around in rabbit holes researching the background to the book, I came across this article which talks about a basement areas under Bold Street in the city centre, where Pierre and Lucy do some of their Sunday Shopping. In fact, I’ve referenced the before – you might even remember it if you were following the unfolding novel back in October 2018! One of the comments in the thread provided me with a big chunk of inspiration for my fictional tunnel network:

“I worked on a refurbishment prog (sic) in 1980 at the Adelphi hotel. A tunnel was found at the front of the hotel, it’s now covered over by the back bar in the night club. It was heading in the direction of Lewis’s or Central Station.”

Many of you will remember that I was once employed as an insurance surveyor, and in the course of some of my building inspections I tramped through many of the dusty, disused and fascinating parts of Liverpool’s panoply of historical edifices.

One of these was the Cotton Exchange. Remember how Liverpool was built on the Far Eastern trade of cotton and silk? Even in the distant days of my insurance career not much was left of the cotton trade in Liverpool and, at the time of my visit, this beautiful old building had fallen into disrepair. I remember being shown the old sample room where the quality of the merchants’ cotton was once assessed against the samples contained in a large beautifully crafted chest of drawers. But the basement held many treasures. Take a look.

Around the perimeter of this massive building there were a number of intriguing metal-clad doors which led from the pavement down into the basement storage level and it was this that captured my imagination for Pierre’s little bolt hole:

“I have just the place. Come, Lucy.” He held out his hand. Lucy took it and followed him as he ducked around the next corner and down a short flight of steps leading to a basement area. There was a heavy door at the bottom of the stairs and the window next to the door was boarded up. Pierre reached down and drew out a key from a recess under the bottom step. He fitted the key into the lock and turned it. The door swung open silently on well-oiled hinges...

A few paragraphs later, they finally make their escape through the basement and into the tunnels. Lucy is understandably unnerved when she and Pierre first enter…

.

Excerpt from You’ll Never Walk Alone

“This way,” Pierre took Lucy’s hand and guided her out of the room into a dimly lit corridor. The heels of Lucy’s dancing shoes echoed on the tiled floor as they hurried past the closed doors on either side of the corridor. At the end there was a larger metal door with a plate which read ‘boiler room’. Pierre pulled the thick metal handle towards him and they stepped over the threshold. The door clanged shut behind them. They climbed down a short flight of metal steps and crossed the floor of the boiler room to another metal staircase which led to a sub-basement. At the far side of the lower basement there was a smaller unmarked door. Pierre pushed against.

“Okay, Lucy, through here.”

“It’s so dark. Where are we going, Pierre?”

“Hold on, just stand there a sec,” he said letting go of her hand and feeling along the wall. Lucy heard a click and a torch beam shone on the ground in front of her. Pierre shone the beam around revealing a tall, brick-lined tunnel.

“Where are we?” asked Lucy. “It’s not a sewer is it?

“You’d be able to smell if it was. No, this is part of a whole network of tunnels under the city.”

“How did you know about..?”

“Come on, Lucy,” just a bit further. “You’ll like where we come out.” Pierre sounded as if he was enjoying himself now.

“Okay, you’re the boss.”

Hand in hand they strode along the tunnel. Lucy focused on the torch beam, shutting out all thoughts of what might lurk beyond the pool of yellowy light. As they followed a branch in the tunnel which led off to the right, the gradient increased and a little further on, Lucy could make out the faint outline of a door. Pierre clicked off the torch and placed it in a small alcove alongside the door.

“Okay, Lucy, let me just check the coast is clear.” Pierre ducked inside the doorway and looked around. He gestured Lucy to follow.

Lucy stepped into another corridor and followed Pierre through the door opposite where they had come in. The room beyond was shrouded in gloom, but Lucy could make out a row of steel barrels and shelves containing cardboard boxes and bottles. They crept through the storeroom and found themselves behind a bar counter, looking out into a room containing an assortment of tables with chairs piled up on them. Pierre looked at Lucy and smiled.

“I know where this is. It’s that little bar at the side of the Adelphi Hotel.” Lucy said triumphantly.

“It certainly is,” Pierre held out his hand. “Follow me, let’s see about a room.”

We’ll likely be visiting the Adelphi Hotel another time!

You’ll Never Walk Alone is available from Amazon in paperback and ebook and on Kindle Unlimited
USA UK ~ CAN ~ AUS IND ~ the rest of the world

Image credits: Liverpool Echo, Britannia Adelphi Hotel

54 thoughts on “Location, Location, Location #23

  1. Love your old job. I had a previous job that went the other direction–up! installing cell phone antennas on rooftops. That included church spires and water tanks. I couldn’t help but click through to your book. It sounds like a lot of fun.

    BTW, I loved The Green Rabbit. You have a clever mind, Chris Hall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I bet all those rooftops gave you an interesting perspective, and a somewhat perilous one! I think the highest I’ve been is the roof of the old grain silos in Liverpool with nothing but an open grid platform beneath my feet, that was quite scary enough!
      I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the Rabbit, and thank you so much for your lovely review – I saw it when I was looking for those book recommendations on GR. I had lots of fun writing it… and YNWA too.
      ‘Clever mind’ – what a splendid compliment! I thank you, Jacqui 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I checked out the photos of the Cotton Exchange you provided a link to. What a fascinating place! No wonder you found such inspiration in it. When this post first came across my email, the header photo reminded me of an old insane asylum.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re so in touch with your community/location.
    Your writing is amazing in the extracts. I’m struggling with that bit in my current project but I want to first write the 1st draft then I can begin all the simplifying and patching up. I love yours ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is so amazing! I looked through all the pictures of the Cotton Exchange and thoroughly enjoyed them. Here in Fresno
    there are some tunnels underneath shops in the area known as Chinatown. There are now a few YouTube videos where they take you on a tour of them. Nothing like the Cotton Exchange, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I thought those tunnels were real, Chris! In my mind, I was seeing them as actual streets, similar to those under Glasgow or Edinburgh… unless I’ve imagined those as well! 🤣🤔🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That picture (9) of the Cotton Exchange of a triptych with “trump l’oeil” is a story waiting to be discovered…
    Unearthing a lot, thank you for the insights!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The city has a fascinating history and some superb old buildings. It’s changed a lot since I left, and even more since the time the book is set in the 1980s. Thanks for reading, Robbie 🙂

    Like

  8. Lovely sense of descent into the gloom with Pierre and Lucy. I didn’t know that Liverpool was so subterranean! I’ve been playing around with a short story on the supposed secret passage from Kenilworth Castle, near where I grew up. I might have to revisit it after reading this!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating post, Chris. The closest I’d gotten to anything underground in Liverpool–visit with the Army Cadets when I was a teen–was passing The Cavern. If I’d known there were tunnels, oh man, I’d have explored for the entire time I was there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha, some tunnels are more real than others! Ah, but the Cavern you saw wasn’t the original. That one has long been beneath a car park in Mathew Street. Of course, we might be able to reach it by tunnel… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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