Subterranean Redcar

Disclaimer – Subterranean Redcar is quite a dramatic title, you may possibly be a little disappointed.

During lockdown I’ve been taking occasional walks from Redcar to Saltburn, setting myself the challenge of never following the same route home twice. About a month ago C. had told me that she had heard that there was an underpass that ran beneath the railway line linking Redcar with Marske.

There are not many accessible underground spaces around here so I resolved to find it. I had a look at the maps but couldn’t find any trace of an underpass. A couple of weeks later I was chatting to a friend at work and mentioned the underpass “oh you must mean the one in East Redcar, we used to call it Piss Alley.”

C. was heading to Redcar today so I scrounged a lift. I grew up in Middlesbrough and my knowledge of the geography of Redcar is quite poor. I asked C. to drop me off on West Dyke Road, which she did, unfortunately the road I thought was West Dyke Road is actually called Redcar Lane. Between Redcar Lane and West Dyke Road lies Redcar Racecourse. The racecourse cuts a large swathe through central Redcar and is surrounded by a high perimeter fence. I asked C. if there was any way to get from one side of the racecourse to the other without having to walk all the way around it, she didn’t know, I set off to find out.

I walked across the playing fields towards the racecourse and noticed a woman in the distance walking purposely along a footpath that led towards the racecourse fence, I decided to follow the same path. To my great delight I came to a tunnel that ran beneath the racecourse. As tunnels go it wasn’t particularly long and possibly only qualifies as an underpass. but if this were a football ground, a passage to the pitch of a similar length would definitely be called a tunnel. The dictionary defines an underpass as a road that goes underneath a railway or other road, no mention of racecourses so I’m going to claim it as a tunnel.

Leaving the tunnel I found myself a few hundred metres away from Redcar Lane so set off to find my next target, the railway underpass.

I finally found the narrow cut between two houses, it would have been quite easy to miss. I walked along the cut and there it was, Piss Alley. To be honest, after the joy of finding the unexpected brutalist corrugations of the racecourse tunnel this was quite a let down, it was short with second rate graffiti and didn’t smell of urine. Although the latter may be due to pubs being closed for many months.

Strong Hill – Richmond

Dodgson attended Richmond Grammar School for a year while his father was vicar of Croft

Hunting for erratics amongst the river-worn cobbles of Frenchgate.

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Shap granite

Zealous and Consistent members

The town has two subterranean legends. One tells of how a potter named Thompson discovered a cave beneath the castle. In the cave was a round table around which were a group of sleeping knights. Upon the table was a great sword and a horn. Thompson reached for the horn, waking knights from their sleep. Thompson fled and as he ran he heard a voice behind him say..

Potter Thompson, Potter Thompson!

If thou hadst drawn the sword or blown the horn,

Thou hadst been the luckiest man e’er was born.”

The second legend concerns a tunnel that runs from the castle to Easby Abbey. The tunnel was supposed to have been dug to allow the abbots to escape from the marauding Scots. Some soldiers wanted to explore the tunnel but found it too narrow. They sent a drummer boy into the passage and instructed him to beat his drum as he walked, allowing the soldiers to track his progress from the surface.  At a point between the castle and the abbey the drum fell silent and the boy was never seen again.

A stone has been erected on the riverside path to mark the point where the drumming ceased. The local legend is that the drummer boy’s ghost still walks the passage and occasionally his drum can still be heard beating.

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