Investigators offer to come to Leighton Buzzard to explore possible existence of underground tunnels

Do tunnels exist below Leighton Buzzard?  (Photo for illustrative purposes only)
Do tunnels exist below Leighton Buzzard? (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

A society interested in man-made underground structures and space has offered to come to Leighton Buzzard to investigate the possible existence of a network of tunnels beneath the town centre.

UK-based Subterranea Britannica was contacted about the much talked about tunnels by local historian Christine Moore after the decades-old mystery over their potential existence resurfaced earlier this month with the discovery of a sinkhole in New Road, Linslade.

Now Christine, who runs the Facebook group Leighton Buzzard History, Pictures and Memories, is keen to hear from people who can aid Subterranea Britannica with a potential examination of underground locations.

She said: “This debate has been going on for years. Are there, aren’t there tunnels. I don’t know, but I run a history group and there is so much interest in it.”

Most High Street shops have cellars, with each cellar having a bricked-up arch, assumed by many to be the entrance to a blocked up tunnel.

Christine said the bricked-up arches were mostly below buildings that are, or were, pubs. She said: “They criss-cross across town. The one at The Swan was destroyed, another caved in, WHSmith had one.

“I’ve been down to the Wilkinson entrance and seen that one. It is bricked up. Simon Wilkinson has seen beyond that and it was a 3ft wide and 5ft high space and that doesn’t look like a cellar. He’s shone a torch down there but didn’t go any further. There was a major water leak near there and the subsequent works filled in any evidence in that particular area.”

Of the possible exploration, Christine said: “Subterranea Britannica are happy to come and investigate but they need to find an entrance and someone willing to knock a few bricks out to find it.

“They say these areas could be cellars, but they don’t know without investigating. They have investigated quite a few towns.

“We’d like to hear from anyone who has got an entrance these people can have a look at. We need that starting point to investigate further.”

She added: “People have said they’ve been down there and they are not large enough to be cellars and say they are tunnels just big enough to get a person down. Are these tunnels connecting cellars together? Then again what would be the purpose of that? I think the whole thing needs to be investigated and put to bed so we know for sure.”

The existence of the tunnels was last week dismissed as an urban myth by Paul Brown, chairman of Leighton Buzzard & District Archaeological & Historical Society, who called for hard evidence that any tunnels exist.

Of the bricked up arches, he said: “They happen to be a medieval method of strengthening the floor above. If you remove the bricks there is earth behind not a tunnel.”

If you can help an investigation contact the LBO via news@lbobserver or 01582 798504 and we’ll put you in touch with Christine.