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Mystery Surrounds 7-Mile Tunnel Under Coventry, England

You’d think it’d be hard for a city to completely misplace something like a seven-mile long tunnel underneath their city, but that appears to be exactly what has happened in Coventry, England. Archivists from The Telegraph were going through their records when they discovered three unexplained photographs. The pictures are dated 17th March 1970 and show workers hunched inside a tiny tunnel. The captions clearly state that the workers are digging a tunnel under the Coventry city center, but historians and city clerks are at a loss to explain what they tunnel might be used for – and whether or not it’s still there.

One of the unexplained photos.

One of the unexplained photos.

Somewhat luckily, the pictures each have a caption on them which basically all read the same: “Kinnear Moodie Ltd employees working on a seven mile tunnel under Coventry city centre. 17th March 1970.” Two of the pictures include the name of workers in the tunnels.

Do you recognize either of these men?

Do you recognize either of these men?

A similar sewer tunnel under Coventry was used to film tunnel scenes from the classic heist film The Italian Job, but those tunnels are known to historians. The only piece of information is that there was a contract for a sewer tunnel issued sometime between 1969 and 1972, but the trail ends there. If it was a sewer tunnel, it was either never connected to city lines or was abandoned at some point. Still, the lack of a paper trail is strange.

Whatever the tunnel was meant for, it was clearly built to last a while.

Whatever the tunnel was meant for, it was clearly built to last a while.

The Coventry Telegraph asked its readers to weigh in on the mystery. Some of the speculation includes sewer lines or mail train tunnels, although city records clearly show that tunnels for those purposes were dug at earlier times and records were kept. One reader, Rich Thomas, says the tunnel might be part of an old urban legend he remembers from childhood about a secret government defense network:

Now the story I heard when I was a kid was that it was a link from the Civil Defence Bunker in the city (don’t know where) to Baginton (Coventry) Airport. True? Who knows? But apparently you can gain access to said tunnel through a manhole in the Wyken Pippin car park. I first heard this urban myth in about ‘80 from my old man who used to work for the Corporation.

How could a seven-mile tunnel just vanish from city records? Could this be merely a case of mislabelled photographs, or could this indeed be a secret government installation which has accidentally come to light?