Paul writes…

Does anyone know anything about a secret tunnel leading from Kings Norton Church to somewhere in the area of Wythall Lane?  I have a very hazy recollection of this, and have been making enquiries locally with negative results.  An elderly lady I met in the church grounds told me it was an urban myth but I am not so sure?

Any thoughts?

70 Responses to “Secret tunnels in Kings Norton”

  • Karen Dixon:

    I was born on Lindsworth Road in 1960, so coming across this site tonight has been a great read. Kings Norton is rich in history, I believe it’s even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Hello to Neil Barnett who commented above, was my neighbour from 6 doors down, long long time no see.
    I’m 54 years old and I still go back to Kings Norton occasionally, park the car and go rambling off down memory lane! The reservoir (ressa); who remembers Burt? The guy who used to run the tea room at the ressa and hire the boats out for fishing. The Swingbridge has been removed now, my goodness the hours we used to spend on that bridge larking about. Lifford Hall had its famous well talked about ghost ‘the white lady’. A old couple who lived on lindsworth road called Mr and Mrs Harris used to live in Lifford Hall back in the 40s/50s era, I presume as caretakers. They mentioned about the tunnels, can’t recall exactly what. Loved growing up there, I’ve fell in that cut more times than I care to remember!

  • Dessie Molloy (Dunphy):

    Hi Karen.
    Yes, I remember Burt (a bit of a drunkard) his surname was Hawkins, he lived in a council flat near me. In the 1960’s I lived in Partons road Kings Heath, and he lived in Staveley road. I remember he had a daughter called Barbara, she used to look after me when I was about 5 or 6 years old while my mother went to work at Cadbury’s.
    I also remember the “Swing Bridge” at Lifford, and I too used to play on it (it’s gone now. I’ve just looked at the Google map, and instead of the Swing bridge, there is now a brick pathway for pedestrians).
    As a young boy, I’ve spent hundreds of hours fishing at the “Ressa” Lifford.
    We used to hire one of the flat bottomed Punts so we could fish in the middle of the Ressa.
    Lifford Hall always intrigued me when I was young, so much so that I explored it a bit. There’s a castle tower (still there) that looks medieval, but in fact it’s a Victorian Folly.
    There are two tunnels (hence “Tunnel Lane”) in the grounds of the 15th century Lifford Hall. I watched a film clip in the early 1970s on ATV Today, a TV crew entered the tunnels in Lifford lane, but could only go 200 yards into it, as it was in danger of collapse.
    A few years ago, I spoke to a rector at St. Nicholas church at Kings Norton Green about the Lifford hall and tunnels, and he said that it was true, and that the tunnels ran from the Church itself to Lifford Hall.
    He said that at times of the Protestant persecution, the Catholic priests would leave the church via the tunnels, and go to the safety of Lifford Hall, which was owned a Catholic sympathiser.
    Perhaps our paths have crossed sometime in the past!

  • George Demidowicz:

    There is no truth in the story that tunnels lead from Lifford Hall to Kings Norton Church. This is over a mile!
    There are tunnels leading from the front of Lifford Hall but they are considerably shorter and head in the direction of the reservoir. When you walk between the the reservoir and the river on the wide terrace you are walking along the the last section of the tunnel. Before the reservoir was built in 1813 tunnel was only about 25 yds long.
    The tunnel is in fact the tail race tunnel from the water mill that once stood on the west (left) side of the Hall as you look at it today from the bridge. The tall crenellated bay window is the site of one of the water wheels and the end of the low building farther to the left is the site of the other water wheel. In my survey work on the mill in the 1980s I entered the tunnels and had them mapped.

    The mill was moved in the early 19th century onto a site in the corner of Tunnel Lane as it turns sharp right to head along the reservoir. I had this mill excavated in the late 1980s.

  • George Demidowicz:

    There is no truth in the story that tunnels lead fropm Lifford Hall to Kings Norton Church. This is over a mile!
    There are tunnels leading from the front of Lifford Hall but they are considerably shorter and head in the direction of the reservoir. When you walk between the the reservoir and the river on the wide terrace you are walking along the the last section of the tunel. Before the reservoir was built in 1813 tunnel was only about 25 yds long.
    The tunnel is in fact the tail race tunnel from the water mill that once stood on the west (left) side of the Hall as you look at it today from the bridge. The tall crenellated bay window is the site of one of the water wheels and the end of the low building farther to the left is the site of the other water wheel. In my survey work on the mill in the 1980s I entered the tunnels and had them mapped.

    The mill was moved in the early 19th century onto a site in the corner of Tunnel Lane as it turns sharp right to head along the reservoir. I had this mill excavated in the late 1980s.

  • Vanessa:

    Many years ago in the 70s I lived in Wychall Lane and we used to have a regular ghost(?) who visited, ran down our entry quite a few times and disappeared down our long garden, leading down to the stream (think it’s river Rea?). Have always wondered if this was linked to Kings Norton Church, am still investigating.

  • Lynne North:

    Hi Karen very interested in your memories of Lifford Hall. I believe the Mr and Mrs Harris you referred to may have been Mrs Rose Harris and her husband. I can remember my mother telling me that they owned Lifford Hall and sold it to Sturges who converted the property into their canteen and sports and social club. Rose Harris worked as a member of the canteen staff when we were there in the late 50s early 60s. Consequently I remember Rose Harris from that time as she and my mother worked together. If you access the site of Langard, Lifford who are the current owners, in their history of the site there is a reference to a Griffin Harris family who came into possession of the hall. I believe that they would be connected. If Lindsworth Road is accessed from the hall by turning left out of Tunnel Lane onto Lifford Lane, past the main entrance to Sturges, over the canal bridge and turn left I can remember visiting Mrs Harris with my mother.

  • Tina Buchanan:

    What an amazing thread. My family were the Heys and Boultons and they lived at Tunnel End and Tunnel Cottages in Masshouse Lane. Which suggests to me there must have been a tunnel at this location too. Also at Old Masshouse Farm and 31 The Green. I looked into all this some 11 years ago but only this weekend did I get a chance to visit Kings Norton – what a lovely place.

  • Paul:

    It is well over five years since I posted the original question concerning tunnels in Kings Norton. It is probably over a year since I re-visited this thread, and I am pleasantly surprised at the amount of interest it has attracted.
    I also opened the High House thread, which although attracting some interest, has ground to a halt… if anybody knows ANY history on High House, please let me know.

    To return to the tunnels: I am impressed to see that this thread has not been polluted by the usual idiots who spoil things for everybody else. The responses have all been intelligent and, as far as memory allows, accurate.
    I have nothing at the moment to add to the Kings Norton tunnels, except to say it appears this is not an urban myth. There is a common memory running through the responses.

    What I have discovered through my association with a highly regarded historian (Who I have agreed not to identify) is that such tunnels exist beneath most of England, especially beneath areas of high habitation.
    These tunnels have been a large problem to civil engineers, as there is no trace of them on any map, and some of them are very large and very very deep. The larger tunnels that have been found are also inter-connected. He has a theory, although untested, that at one time, it would be possible to travel all over England without ever surfacing.

    During the Dark Ages people lived in burrows, usually in hillsides, but there is little history available as to the purpose of the tunnels. My clever friend was to reluctant to forward any further theories. He did however raise three questions that would need to be answered…

    1. Who made them? 2. How? 3. Why?

    I realise that I have gone a little off subject, but sometimes, if one is aware of the much bigger picture, it can help to answer local issues.

    Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.

  • Anne:

    My father Joe Corr worked at sturges factory from around 1955.We lived in a rented house in Lifford Lane owned by the firm.I remember quite vividly the Xmas parties for children at the White House as it was always very exciting for us.
    I vaguely remember my parents getting on very well with the owners and having other visits to the house.The surname Barker I remember very well indeed,as do I recall the story of the white lady haunting the grounds!
    Sadly I do not recall stories of the secret tunnels.

  • Richard:

    Do any of you remember Bert and Dorothy Harding that lived in Lindsworth Rd. my grandparents lived there from about 1940 until they died in the 90s.

  • Zoe:

    What interesting reading! I live less than 100m from the old Masshouse on the site of the old farm, and we have a huge slab of concrete blocking off something at the top of the garden. We assume it’s a well, but it does get you thinking! Won’t be messing with it but I love to read the stories.

  • Phil:

    I heard rumours years ago of tunnels.
    As you walk along the main path into St Nicholas church there is a grave/tomb on the left which has the words ‘ENTRANCE BENEATH’ carved into the front of it. Apparently there is no entrance beneath! Does anyone know anything about this?

  • Bailey:

    The is a haunted house in Kings Norton so the tunnel is probably haunted.

  • Andrew Taylor:

    Just stumbled across these pieces of information almost by accident I spent a huge chunk of my formative years living in Kings Norton, I went to Broadmeadow school and we’ll remember Bells Farm, and the witches circle!! I was also a member of the church choir up at St Nicholas so lots of memories being stirred up by everybody else’s recollections on these subjects, so many aspects that we witnessed around 40 years ago which have now with the passage of time become obscured. Tunnels I can well believe in, and from most of the locations mentioned, but as to them connecting up? Slightly less convinced, a tunnel from Start Nicholas to Lifford Hall would be a pig to excavate and keep dry even using today’s systems! But that’s not to say I am doubting anybodies personel recollections regarding tunnels at each of the locations, Witches were a fairly common feature across the whole country at various points on history, but I believe the Bells Farm Coven owed more to the writings of Dennis Wheatley and the mind altering recreational pharmaceuticals of the 1960’s and 70’s than the era of the Pendle and Essex witches and the self appointed ‘wytchefynder general’ Mathew Hopkins and his ‘Malleus maleficorium'(The Hammer of the Witches! A guide book on witch hunting technique!) The concept of witches knowingly living at Bells Farm, atop Bells Hill, and them living in fear of the Druids living across the relatively small valley on Druids Heath I have to crush too though I’m afraid, not sure exactly when Druids Heath was thus named, but the real Druids were extinct from many, many, centuries prior to this, the modern variety are very much a Victorian remake and in no way really reflect the very much conjectural habits of their ancient namesakes, Living all the wZy out in rural North Norfolk on the Blickling Estate as a National Trust custodian tenant I’m so far removed geographically that research on the ground would be difficult for me now but hope somebody might discover more 😁

  • Sam:

    I worked in Lifford hall briefly at the wnd of the 1980s when it was bought or rented by Accountancy firm Pridie Langards.Some years later lifford Hall was on central news(or whatever it was back then)They had discovered human remains in the walls of the attic room.They are mentioned about the tunnel from Lifford Hall to KingsNorton church but I can’t remember exactly what they said about that but I am fairly sure it at least partly supported the theory.By the way the brief stint at Lifford hall for me was very creepy,just an eary feel to it,although I was fascinated by the very very old out house buildings left untouched there.

  • Lynne North:

    In response to Anne’s post October 19th 2015, Hi Anne. I remember you and your family very well. Your parents Joe and Una were friendly with my parents George and Pat Robinson when we lived at Lifford Hall. I often played with yourself and your sisters Marie and Hilary. A lovely surprise to see a familiar name .

  • Tinkers Lad:

    What an interesting thread. I lived in Kings Norton from around 1965 to 1981. It was and still is a beautiful place. The last area of Kings Norton that I lived in was just off Whychel Lane. I was aware of stories of the tunnels and hauntings but never confirmed anything. Back in the mid 60’s as kids we believed Hawksley farm was haunted. A group of us would go up the old avenue of trees, (the old road to the farm) trying to be brave and hoping to see the ghost.
    With ref: to Tinas’ post I often played with the the lad (Tony) who lived at 1 Tunnel cottage, he spent a bit of time in and out of hospital in the 60’s. He had a younger sister too. Next to Tunnel cottages was an old barn where the horses would be rested or changed for towing the old narrow boats. Back in the day, there was a track from Tunnel cottages following roughly the line of the Tunnel over ground to Hopwood. Where the canal Tunnel exited. The track back in the 60’s was known as the Donkey track. I dare say it has been built on these days. From Tunnel cottages we would head along the towpath towards Lifford Ressa, passing Junction House. We knew the kids there and would stop to play, sometimes swimming in the canal, feeding the pigs or the chickens. We would then walk further along the towpath, behind the factories to Lifford Lane, and then turn right towards the Ressa. Also as kids we would walk through Kings Norton church yard and we noticed the grave with “Entrance below” inscribed near the ground. For those interested in finding the grave, pass through the Lytch Gate (near the Saracens Head) and the grave is on the left of the path about 10 or so yards from the gate, look at ground level adjacent to the path to see the inscription. Hauntings, on the junction of Masshouse Lane and Redditch Rd there was an old News Agents shop. I’m not sure if the building is still standing? This shop was used as a mortuary sometime in its history and reputed to be haunted. On a personal note, although I no longer live in Birmingham, I do still visit Kings Norton church as both my parents are buried in the churchyard.

  • barry:

    Hi, feb 19th 2019,just read all the facts about the tunnels in kings Norton,no-one has mentioned the well tunnels on the green itself,3 I know of,and the entrance to one now.been in lifford hall cellars in 1986-87.when empty,found no tunnels,but did go down the tunnel in the grounds,have lots of photos still.they were bricked up from the main hall,was canteen.

  • Mark:

    I stumbled across this interesting thread by accident.We grew up in Franklin road,and as kids, we always went fishing to lifford reservoir. Walking home from our trip we always walked past Lifford Hall, and the talk always ended up about it being haunted, and the tunnel that ran from there up to St Nicholas church, These were great times and memories from the 70s. Still a mystery though. Come on folks, lets kick start this thread up again. There was always about 5 of us who always went fishing from Franklin Road, myself, Paul, Jeffery, Milan, and Colin(RIP), ANYONE REMEMBER US ?

  • STEVE HUNT:

    Hi Have only come across this site the tunnel ran from the church to the Hall up the redditch road.I was taken down it by the farmer who rented the Hall.
    But it was only about 20 feet long then fill in.This was 50 years ago.
    Many thanks
    steve Hunt

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