Tell your own Ancoats Story

It all Started with a Phone Call

It all started with a phone call on a Thursday night from Stephen O’Malley the engineer. ‘Dan, the contractors doing the road have uncovered a brick arched tunnel under Henry Street. We’re filling it in on Monday so they can carry on with the road. I thought you’d like to see it. Its walled up at either end, we’re going to break into it in the morning if you want to come and have a look at it. When I arrived I was greeted by the sight of a man with his head in a hole in the pavement. Ten minutes later we were in the basement of the adjacent mill, breaking down a wall to get into the brick arched cavern with a stone flag floor and a plethora of stalactites dripping from the ceiling.

Another 10 minutes and I was negotiating with the contractor if there was not another stretch of road he could be getting on with for a few days. “What do you want to keep an empty space for?” I don’t know yet, but there is something about it. When we broke through into the walled up cavern under the road a dense and pungent smell was released and washed over us. It was a strange moment for all of us. I am sure for each of us it evoked a different experience and memory. For me it was a flashback to a visit to an ancient underground temple, the Necromanteion in Greece, said, by believers, to be the door to Hades. The latter had underground light-sensitive slugs the size of whales so I was not a little nervous as we clambered into the tunnel.

Engineer’s Tale


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