We've been working on Greenwich hidden underground stuff for a long time, spent countless hours searching internet websites, looking for the pictures of anything which would give us a clue how to first find the hidden gems, then maybe access them. Well everyone knows that there is something there, underground, but at the same time there is hardly any images online. We kept coming back and every single visit was getting us closer and closer to what we finally revealed... And I think it paid off big time
Oh and I have to mention a "dogs loose" sign which we saw on the fence, that made me well paranoid, every time we went there I was expecting some German shepherds chasing us..
Here is some history of this place (from The Greenwich Phantom) (very interesting - building this almost unknown dome brought on one of Greenwich Park's first-ever environmental protests)
This Victorian reservoir was opened in 1844. Greenwich Hospital had spent a lot of time and cash enlarging and improving the maze of underground conduits that weave their way through the Park, but they had their eye on making it even bigger - not least because as well as supplying Deptford Dockyard and the hospital itself, the surplus water could be flogged off to local residents.That the spot they chose for an open reservoir in 1844 was home to a small colony of Anglo Saxon tumuli didn't bother the admirals in charge one jot, and they had already turfed-up several ancient burial mounds before a newly-politicised public got wind of it.
The very early Victorian age was beginning to realise the importance of conservation - almost contemporary to the destruction of this most ancient part of the park was raging another dispute, over the arrival of the railways. The fury over the Anglo-Saxon graves was both organised and angry. Greenwich's 19th-Century Swampy, one "Simon Sensitive," was appalled and made the campaign public, writing to the Pictorial Times. The protesters got themselves a stay of execution - and they saved the burial mounds (albeit in a very damaged form.)
Reservoir cost £3,069, and was designed by Sir William Thomas Denison, Superintendent at Portsmouth Dockyard, under the watchful eye of the Admiralty Works Department. The new tank held 1, 125,000 gallons of water, was partially dug-out, partially built-up and measured 160 feet across its base. And it only lasted 26 years. The hospital closed in 1871. Kent Waterworks covered the reservoir with a turf roof, and screened it with bushes.
I find the history of this place very interesting - first its one of the oldest Victorian reservoir in London, second - well first ever environmental protests? How amazing And also the fact that it only served for 26 years? Our level of excitement was well high before we finally entered it.
And it looked just beautiful!
We've also visited Hyle Vale Conduit :
At least three underground tunnels or conduits are known to exist under Greenwich Park, brick-built and practically large enough in which to walk upright. These were water mains designed to channel natural groundwater from higher up the hill down to the buildings of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, now the National Maritime Museum, at Greenwich (Grade I). The construction of the Royal Hospital was commenced in the reign of King William and Queen Mary in 1698, utilising an uncompleted building of 1664 originally designed as a palace, to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. The hospital opened in 1705 although it was not completed until much later in the century. Pevsner's "Buildings of England" considered that Nicholas Hawksmoor had special responsibility for the conduits. In 1698 he became Clerk of Works, retaining the post until 1735. He was also Deputy Surveyor there between 1705 and 1729. Although the surviving conduits were rebuilt at the end of the C17, earlier conduits for the Tudor palace or even medieval manor houses may have been reused by the Naval engineers. Lead pipes carried the water to reservoirs at the end of the conduit systems. The Standard Reservoir Conduit House contained a reservoir. The C18 and C19 saw a decline in the conduit system and several were abandoned as early as 1732. In 1831 a report argued the need for an improved water supply for the Royal Hospital by the creation of reservoirs and the replacement of the existing lead pipes with iron. In 1845 a new reservoir was built in Greenwich Park by Great Cross Avenue. In 1905 and 1906 Greenwich Borough Council inspected these structures and made reports. After this, known entrances to the conduits were sealed by the Royal Parks authority to prevent unauthorised access. There are three conduit heads from this system: Hyde Vale, One Tree Hill Conduit Head and the Standard Reservoir Conduit House, all listed.
The Hyde Vale conduit is an underground tunnel, constructed of brick, built to carry water to the Standard Reservoir in Greenwich Park. Originally, the conduit ran south-westwards towards a conduit head at the top of Hyde Vale, but subsequently blocking has reduced its length to just under 250m.
The Hyde Vale conduit is probably to be dated to c. 1695, when an existing conduit system was refurbished to supply the Royal Hospital . Since then, the conduits must have been repaired on frequent occasions, as the mixture of brick bonds testifies. The roof may be a separate construction to the tunnel, since in several places the wall is slightly recessed where the vault begins. Iron pipes running along the base of the side walls are certainly later additions, documented to the early nineteenth century.
And then after lifting few wrong hatches, we found the right one and we were finally in It was unforgettable experience walking down these 17th century tunnels...
And Admiralty Western Reservoir - Air Raid Shelter.
Some info about Conduit House:
Late C17 or early C18, attributed to Nicholas Hawksmoor, Clerk of Works at Greenwich from 1698-1735. Restored in the later C20. Classical style. Built of brown brick with red brick dressings in Flemish bond; C20 tiled roof. The Standard Reservoir Conduit House contained a reservoir.