Duchess of Southerland
A network of china clay tunnels leading to Charlestown harbour is open to the public for a limited period, until 9th January 2022.
The tunnels were underground access routes for trucks containing dry china clay, to gain access to ships moored alongside in Charlestown harbour. The china clay used to travel down from its source 3 miles away at Carglaze, in the form of slurry by gravity in a pipe to settling tanks at Charlestown. In 1907, a clay dry was erected where the Shipwreck Museum now stands. The tunnels were constructed at the same time and remained operational until 1968.
The tunnels have been opened in recent years, for special occasions and are open again this winter as the 'Tunnel of Lights: Arctic Adventure'. More than 100 metres of tunnels are illuminated as they cross beneath the road to emerge above the harbour, where china clay used to be emptied down chutes into the holds of ships below. The tunnels run in various directions and a passing loop is included in the layout.
From 1st December, a newly excavated tunnel at the site that has never been opened to the public before, as part of the Museum, will be decorated with thousands of festive lights, as a Christmas feature.
To visit the tunnels, timed entry tickets must be booked in advance via shipwreckcharlestown.co.uk. There is limited availability. The Tunnel of Lights are open to the public from 23rd October 2021 until Sunday 9th January 2022.
Admission will also include access to the Shipwreck Museum.
This is a rare opportunity to see this network of tunnels that have been disused for over 50 years. A couple of end-loading wagons can be seen at the Museum, together with the remains of track and chutes alongside the harbour.