– You never do know what is hidden beneath your feet, do you? There are still many underground places we have not yet discovered, but residents in Stockton-On-Tees, North East England were lucky when they accidentally unearthed a mysterious, ‘lost’ underground street with homes and tunnels.
The underground street is thought to be 250-years-old and it consists of tiny homes that have wooden window frames, and a number of secret tunnels.It was uncovered by Jeff Highfield, 49 during a £1m refurbishment plan to build luxury offices. Before Mr Highfield gained permission to turn the townhouse into business space, the former upmarket residence Gloucester House had become a hotel and much later a planning office for the local authority.
Fascinated by the find he spoke to local historians to understand the original purpose of the mysterious underground street.
“There used to be access to street level and according to the previous mayors that have been down here we believe these are tunnels that link to other parts of Stockton,” Mr Highfield said.
“This used to be effectively a street below the street – living quarters for people that were not very tall I think.
“We believe they used to store animals – being opposite the cattle market we believe that is the case.”
However trying to find written evidence for the theories has proven a difficult task.
Church Road, the terrace of Georgian townhouses where the discovery was made, used to be known as “Paradise Row”.
It was home to wealthy Stockton residents during town’s agricultural and livestock trading days before it was transformed into a busy industrial center.
Historians believe that even before the First World War, these homes would have become too large if middle class families were to host their domestic-staff.
However the theory of domestic-staff occupying these underground homes does not explain the tunnels.
It should be added it is not the first time people in Britain discovered amazing places at their own home. Earlier this month a couple in Kent was shocked to find a secret room under their backyard.
Hannah and Tony Raistrick in Sittingbourne, Kent discovered a patch of concrete under one of their flower beds. They decided to investigate and found a secret staircase leading down underground. The staircase led them to a four meter hallway which led to a room with a dome.
It is believed that it could be from the original site of the Gore Court House, a stately home which was demolished just a few years before their home was built.
Gore Court House was built between 1792 and 1975 but was knocked down in 1926.
Today, nothing remains of the mansion and the site is now the town’s cricket ground.