Tunnel Vision

Drakelow TunnelsGetting lost, horribly lost, a car crash with a twatapus and misbehaving in tunnels. It can only be Calamityville Horror’s next episode.

We teamed up again with Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura’s Ghost Series. Check them out here: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. They regularly attend ghost hunts with South Bristol Paranormal and they invited us to Drakelow Tunnels. This place has become a huge hit recently with ghost hunters and we were more excited than Jason Vorhees on Thursday the 12th. Drakelow TunnelsThen everything started to go wrong. Badly wrong. In fact, this was the most disastrous episode in Calamityville history. And not a single damn bit of it was filmed. Our standards have really slipped. No, wait, that implies the show had standards to begin with. We were running late. Neen’s hairdressing appointment ended up taking 3 hours as her usual hairdresser was away. Then we had to get petrol for her campervan, Tallulah, who has ferried us to a few locations now. Then we got lost trying to find Laura’s house.

Drakelow Tunnels

these aren’t shadow figures, it’s us with the long exposure

And so it began. We approached a roundabout and Neen pulled into the right lane. A guy in a black Fiesta blasted his horn, even though she’d indicated. He drove around us, still blasting his horn like a deranged clown who’s just discovered his comedy nose. He cut us up on the roundabout. And slammed his brakes on. Tallulah went straight into the back of him. What the hell did he think would happen? We could not believe his idiocy. In 15 years of driving, we’ve never experienced this. The whole fiasco made us even later. Neen had nothing to write the insurance details on so Cat fetched the card sleeve from one of her camera tapes. Luckily a guy behind witnessed it all and stopped to give us his details. We’ve never had a crash on Calamityville. Was this Fate’s way of trying to finish us off? We eventually picked Jack and Laura up and set off.

Drakelow TunnelsOnly to get lost. Cat was navigating and still isn’t entirely sure what happened. The signs on her directions didn’t match the roads. It went like this: Neen: “Where are we? Which way do we go?” Cat *shrugs* “No idea. Try that road.” In the end, Neen switched her SatNav on. Then the lens cap on Lynx’s Canon camera, our main filming camera, jammed on while Cat was using it. Again, she had no idea how this happened. It’s usually jammed down, thanks to a sand dune sledging adventure, but on route, decided to attempt to close itself. And got stuck. We couldn’t use it. We finally arrived at Drakelow tunnels (after Cat got us lost numerous times) half an hour later than we were told to be there, but five minutes before the investigation started. We’re calling that a win. Then Cat tripped over in the van. She put her Panasonic camera down in the car park and when she picked it up, found a hole in the back screen. It still works fine, but that’s 2 cameras broken on one journey. And the adventure wasn’t over yet.Drakelow Tunnels

Seven deaths have occurred in Drakelow Tunnels. In Tunnel 1 on 31st October 1941, three men (one called Harry Depper, the other two are unknown) were killed when the ceiling collapsed on them when they were blasting. Mary Ann Brettel was the next to die when she was hit by a dump truck owned by John Cochrane and Sons on the grounds of the complex. Two construction workers were killed during the construction of conveyor belts that were used to take loose rock out. They rode the belt, but got tangled in the machinery and mangled. The last person to die was Eric Harold Newman, a security guard for Goods In & Out. As he left the complex on his motorbike, he was hit by a coach driven by Mr Wilkes, who transported workers to the tunnels.

Drakelow TunnelsLate in 1993, the caretaker was inspecting the kitchen in the old RSG side of the complex. He heard 1940s music that seemed to be coming from the old Rover Shadow Factory side. Thinking someone had left a radio on, he went to check. The music got louder when he approached Tunnel 1, but as he entered the tunnel, it stopped. He couldn’t find a radio . As he reached the old time office at the end of the tunnel, the music started again. After a 6 hour search of the entire complex, he failed to find the radio. The only equipment that was capable of playing music was the WW2 tannoy system that hasn’t worked since the ‘50s.

Drakelow Tunnels

we climbed up here

In 1996, the resident caretaker and his 2 German Shepherds were locking the complex one winter evening, after people had been in repairing electrical wiring. While the caretaker was securing the GPO telephone exchange in the RGHQ, his dogs went into the next room. They began barking, so the caretaker rushed in. They dogs were staring at the wall, barking. He calmed them, put them on their leads, and continued his rounds. When they entered Tunnel 4, the dogs stopped and growled, fixated on the top of the tunnel. The caretaker tried to see what they were looking at, but couldn’t. The dogs fell silent and the caretaker saw a mist at the top of the tunnel, floating towards him. The dogs fled through the RGHQ. Thinking there was a fire, the caretaker followed and found them barking and scratching the Blast Door at Adit A. He opened the doors and they ran to his car outside.Drakelow Tunnels

Inside the tunnels was cold and darker than the devil’s armpits. We found the toilets but stupidly didn’t take lights with us, so were navigating using the glow from the screens of our flip phones. Torch apps don’t exist on the Motorola V5. Lynx then got attacked by the toilet door. She closed it, not realising it wasn’t attached. It fell on her, crushing her earring into her ear and giving her a nice cauliflower ear. Had Fate had a tantrum we’d escaped the accident unscathed and tried to take her out with a toilet door? The same door later attacked Laura, hurting her thumb.

Drakelow Tunnels

the medical centre

We were all given maps and split into groups, ours consisting of Jack and Laura and us. After Cat’s woeful navigation, we gave Neen the map. Neen’s got us through Edinburgh and York with her map reading skills so she gets lumbered with the responsibility of us. It’s not an easy job and nobody else wants it. We were all told to stick together for the walk through. That was never going to happen. We see a doorway, we’ll go through it. We see stuff, we’ll go investigate it. We may never come across it again. As it happened, the areas we’d wandered off to, we didn’t come across again, so it’s just as well we explored them. Neen regularly threatens to put us on those straps children wear on school trips to stop them wandering off. She describes going anywhere with us ‘like herding kittens’.

 

Drakelow Tunnels

what we discovered after climbing the scaffolding

Bearing in mind how dark it was, you’d assume we’d have torches. Nope. None of ours work properly. We had to rely on the night vision/full spectrum screens of our cameras. Cat walked into a chair. And a wall. And some string blocking a doorway, even though Neen held it up. After the walk through, we were allowed to go off in our groups. We were given Tunnel 1 and the areas off it. We found scaffolding leading up to a big hole in the wall. Our theory is, if they didn’t want people climbing up to the hole, they should move the scaffolding. Us, Neen and Jack climbed it. Laura decided her clumsiness meant she’d be safer staying at the bottom. Think she was actually the bravest, as she was left in the dark by herself! We found some machinery and a doorway. Cat went through first, announcing, “There’s a shaft! It’s slippery!” as she struggled to stay upright.

Drakelow Tunnels

we shouldn’t be up here

Many shaft jokes ensued. We’d found ourselves in a ventilation tunnel. Three curved tunnels led away from the giant fan, getting smaller the closer to the end we got. Neen and Jack had a light and went in the first tunnel. Lynx had a light clipped to her belt and entered the middle tunnel. Cat had no light and entered the last tunnel, finding her way through the night vision camera. The tunnels led to a sudden drop, which was covered. Cat’s end was fully open and had the others not shouted a warning, she may have ended up haunting the tunnels. The slippery shaft made leaving that area tricky, as it was lower than the door. When we got back to the scaffolding, our fear of us heights reminded us this might not have been such a good idea. We managed to climb back down the scaffolding and continued exploring.

Drakelow Tunnels

in Tunnel 4

We found a guard’s station, or office room, so did a vigil in there. We kept hearing voices so Cat ventured down the tunnel to find the source. Turns out, the tunnels’ grid system and acoustics means noise carries a great distance. Even though we were nowhere near the other groups, we could hear them, even if they weren’t being loud. So we’re attributing any voices we heard to the others. Some parts of the tunnels involved us crawling through small holes. One led into toilets then out into Tunnel 4. We seemed to find our way into random toilets. It was like playing Slender: Eight Pages in real life, but minus a rusty pickup truck and losing our sanity.

Drakelow TunnelsAfter a break, we were sent to Tunnel 4. The mist is only seen in the winter, which leads us to believe it’s down to condensation in the chilly air, rather than anything paranormal. We did a vigil in another guard station and again could hear the other groups. While Neen took a photo of the four of us in the station, she heard a noise further up the tunnel. We explored the room next to the medical centre and found a cupboard filled with chart rolls, like the type you get in ECG machines. If the lines are to be believed, the patients flatlined for a long time. Another cupboard contained wages envelopes which had spilled onto the floor, and more chart rolls. Again, the patients flatlined. We did another vigil and heard what sounded like a tap or footstep. Lynx and Laura stood in the corridor outside the room, but nothing happened. We headed to the medical centre for some more calling out. Jack saw mist in front of Laura, but we got no responses. When we asked for a name, the Ghost Radar said ‘Smith.’ A guard called Albert Smith who worked there. To be honest, the Ghost Radar sprouts nonsense more than it says accurate things so we don’t fully trust it, but it is fun.

Drakelow TunnelsWe heard more voices further down a tunnel, so went to investigate. It turned out to be Karin’s group. As we’d got nothing, we joined them for a vigil. We were in a crossroads. Karin, Colin, Ginny and Lee sat in the centre. Neen and Jack ventured down one tunnel, Cat down another and Lynx retreated down the tunnel we’d come down. Again, nothing. We really are the enemies of paranormal activity. You know how when the bad guy walks into a bar and everyone falls silent? That’s what happens when we walk into a haunted area. The spirits all fall silent, put down their cards and nervously touch their guns.

Drakelow Tunnels

Tunnel 4

During the break, we joined Karin on the ouija board in the break room. We got the silent treatment, so tried the planchette with Adrian. It didn’t move. We joined two groups for some table tipping in the operating theatre. We haven’t been convinced on the legitimacy of table tipping since the Victorians were doing it, so we never participate unless it’s with people we know and trust. We’re pretty sure someone was manipulating the table. Colin saw a doctor in one of the rooms in the sick bay, so we wandered off with our laser pen (we’d forgotten to use it so far) and tried to make contact. Well, Lynx tried to get him to kick Cat’s bad knee, but it counts. The doctor gave us the silent treatment. Colin told us to call out for Dr James. We burst into an impromptu version of Aqua’s ‘Dr Jones’. Some people are really unprofessional.

Drakelow TunnelsWe joined Karin, Colin, Ginny and Lee for a session with the Kinnect. It’s from the xbox and it maps your movements, so you appear on screen as an outline with a stick figure inside. Laura was positioned in front of it and spirits were encouraged to stand beside her. Jack joined her, but the spirits didn’t. Neen and Ginny were the next guinea pigs, and although Neen danced for the spirits, they refused to show their appreciation. Colin and Lee went next, but the spirits weren’t interested. We danced our way through the experiment, but even our zumba moves weren’t enough to encourage the spirits to come anywhere near us. We even performed the newly-learnt Uptown Funk routine. Karin was the final one to stand in front of the Kinnect, but she also got nothing, despite mooning the camera.

Drakelow Tunnels

Last women standing

It was now half two in the morning and we all headed back to base camp. Neen and Jack called it quits and headed back to the van. The rest of the groups also decided to leave, so while they were packing up, us and Laura snuck off for one final vigil. We made it to Tunnel 4 through a hole in the toilet wall and called out. We could hear voices at the far end of the tunnel, which we think belonged to one missing group. Then we heard a bang on the blast doors down the end. Two people came looking for the group, so we sent them to the end, too late realising we may be sacrificing them to the tunnel monster. They came back without the group, so were clearly not needed for pleasing the tunnel gods. We continued our vigil, but could still hear the others, even though the two hadn’t found them (they were later discovered outside, smoking). The two people asked us how to get back to basecamp. We directed them to a dead end. Then Lynx showed them the right way. Laura asked for tapping and tapped her foot three times on the floor. She got a response. Two taps. We’re not entirely sure whether it was the group pissing about and pretending to be the spirit, or a genuine response. We decided to find them and set off down the tunnel. It suddenly went very quiet. The feeling in the tunnel changed. It went from being a comfortable place to feeling very eerie. It was clear we were now completely alone.

Drakelow TunnelsAfter several more attempts, we got no response, so headed back to base camp (without getting lost). On the way, we joked about everyone buggering off and leaving us in the tunnels. We got back to base camp. Everyone had buggered off and left us alone. We gathered our gear and headed out to the van to sleep.

In the morning, we were woken by the comforting sounds of gunfire. The tunnels are used for Airsoft and the shooters were already in. We photographed the tunnels, as we hadn’t done it on the way in. The door was unlocked, so we all wandered in. The place was completely lit, which gave it a different atmosphere. We didn’t venture far in, because we were convinced we’d be shot in the face with pellets, but we got a couple of photos before leaving. And getting lost. We dropped Jack and Laura off and headed home. And got lost.Drakelow Tunnels

Courtroom Drama

Old Crown Court BristolAn abandoned court house, acting from a found script and a terrifying dummy called Jean. It could only be the season 5 opening of Calamityville Horror.

You’d think after 4 seasons, the things that have plagued us from the beginning: getting lost, messing around with mannequins and being everything that a ghost hunting show is not, might have improved by now. Well Calamityville fans, worry not, the only things that have improved are our video editing skills.

Old Crown Court BristolThe start of season 5 is a collaboration with fellow Welsh ghost hunters, Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura Ghost series. We went to the Skirrid Inn with them at the end of season 4 and we’re investigating Drakelow Tunnels with them next week. Last night’s adventure was in the old Bristol Crown Court on Bridewell Street. Remembering the fun we had in Monmouth Shire Hall with our mates, Tom and Amy, we didn’t hesitate to accept their invitation. Unfortunately, as we’d been learning to ride motorbikes all day with Neen, she couldn’t leave her wife and kids all night too. Yes, motorbiking was as bad as you’d expect, but that’s for a different blog post. Word of advice: don’t fall off on the day you’re going ghost hunting. It friggin’ hurts.

Old Crown Court BristolHaunted by the navigational disasters of Oxford (may we never speak of it again) and Nottingham, we Goggle Street Viewed the court house, as we know Bristol isn’t the easiest city to drive around. We found on-street parking and a NCP across the road. Confident this would not be an episode involving a meltdown, we set off for Pontypool to fetch Jack and Laura. And got lost. In our defence, Pontypool is quite stingy on the road name signs. And we drove the wrong way through it. After an unnecessary trek through the town centre, we pulled into a bus stop and succumbed to our satnav. We couldn’t get a signal. All we had was a blurry map and a blue blob. Not even roads. Just background. Thanks, technology. Your advances have made our lives so much easier.

Old Crown Court BristolWe found our way back to a roundabout that was mentioned and tried again. As we cruised along a road, Cat’s navigation consisted of: “the blue blob’s getting closer to the red blob.” “The blue blob’s eating the red blob.” “We’ve moved away from the red blob.” We turned around. “We’re nearing the red blob.” “See, now the red blob’s over there.” Satnav, you are a gift from the gods.

It turns out, we’d been on the correct road and should’ve stopped at the scene of the red blob massacre. Luckily we weren’t too late. After picking up Jack and Laura, we set off for Bristol, allowing ourselves an hour and a half for Calamityville cockups. We didn’t have to wait long. As we were merrily trundling along the A4042, Lynx noticed we were heading for Abergavenny. Which is north. We wanted to go east. Cat: “we’re on the right road.” Lynx: “yes, but this road goes both ways.” Cat: “Oh. We’re heading for the Skirrid Inn. Turn around, we’ve already been there.” A u-turn in a parking lay-by soon had us back on course.

We reached Bristol with half an hour to spare and didn’t drive the wrong way down a one-way road at all. Perhaps being responsible for other people made us more into proper adults. And Street View, you lied about that one road of on-street parking. It’s now a bus stop. Thanks for that. It’s no wonder we have trust issues.

Old Crown Court BristolWe found the court, but no way in, despite Cat rattling the chained up doors, so decided to try around the back. After a group of drunken youths complimented us on our hair colour, we met Karrin from South Bristol Paranormal. There were 12 of us in total, which was nice. We don’t like going with 30 or 40 other people. Unlike other locations we’ve visited, our knowledge of Bristol old Crown Court amounted to: it was a crown court; it’s now disused; music events have been held there; there are cells. That’s it. No build date, no architect, no closure date. Not even a Wikipedia page for it.

As soon as we entered the foyer, we wandered off and lost everyone. In our defence – old building, doorways, stuff. There were two foyers with about five doorways leading off each one. By the end of the night, despite having spent eight hours there, we still didn’t know our way around. We don’t hold out much hope for Drakelow Tunnels. We might have to take bread crumbs, or chalk to mark our route. Or maybe the next ghost hunters who go will find our bedraggled selves and lead us out to painfully bright sunshine and freedom. If you don’t see a blog post next Sunday, send help. And biscuits.Old Crown Court Bristol

The night started with a group tour. There are lots of rooms on the ground floor, but only one retains its court room past. Upstairs looks like an abandoned flat, with the cleaning products clearly as unused as the rest of the place. It was more urban exploring than ghost hunting, complete with debris on the stairs and treacherous holes in one floor. We were sadly banned from that area. There was a dummy made of sacks slumped on the stairs. Perhaps it was a reveller that hadn’t gone home and was now trapped in the afterlife of the party. We earmarked him for shenanigans later. But the best part were the cells.

Old Crown Court BristolWe expected a few small holding cells like in Monmouth. Oh no. These were proper prison cells with the gloss white bricks and barred fronts. It was a horror film paradise. And they occupied the entire ground floor. We knew where we wanted to spend the night.

Old Crown Court Bristol

He said he was Father Christmas but he only gives out nightmares.

Luckily we were allowed to go off with Jack and Laura (just as well, considering we’d forgotten everyone’s names the moment they said them), so the four of us began the night in the cells. Cat and Laura returned upstairs to fetch stuff and both got hopelessly lost. So lost, they didn’t even find each other. It was pitch black without the lights. In the family cell, we set up motion sensor lights, had our trusty shackles and keys as trigger objects and our laser pens. We got nothing, apart from an enthusiastic seagull’s participation to our questions. We asked any spirits to blow on our faces and Laura could feel coldness around her. After half an hour, we moved to a smaller cell. Again, nothing. We moved cells and found another sack dummy with a freaky mask. Jack named him Jean and we took turns posing with our new cell mate. Unfortunately, we were summoned for break. We stayed behind to have a quick EVP session with Jean, which mostly resulted in us harassing him for photos.

For our next vigils, we had the entire ground floor, so we started in courtroom one. We thought we should have a group photo where the judge sits. However, we didn’t know how to get to the door that led to that area, so had to vault over the witness box. Not easy when you have a ten second self-timer on your camera. Jack and Laura were put on trial, but the judge refused to pass sentences. While we were there, the Ghost Radar said ‘show’ ‘cold’ ‘blew’ and ‘Harry.’ Our table tipping attempt was as successful as the Titanic’s maiden voyage. But we found a load of guns from the Airsoft events that are held there. We considered wrapping glittery scarves from the courtroom around our faces and rushing into everyone’s vigils wielding the guns, but we’re not insured for heart attacks.Old Crown Court Bristol

As usual, the other groups all experienced activity. Jack reckoned we might be blockers, as none of us ever get activity, despite doing this for a few years now. Ghost hunters who repel ghosts. That would explain our show being as popular as a swarm of bees in a lift. Phew. We thought it was our personalities.

We wandered the other rooms, walking into objects and tripping over stuff. In our final room, Cat found a black book. With a script inside. She and Jack acted out the script which can only be described as ‘bizarre’. One scene involved a magic carpet and assassinating dictators by pushing mammals off the carpet onto them. Does the SAS know about this unique tactic? The BBC clearly hasn’t commissioned this script, but rest assured, part of it shall make its debut on Calamityville. What is it with us finding scripts in courts? Anything after this was going to be anticlimactic.Old Crown Court Bristol

After another break, we were teamed up with Alan, Bev, Daisy and Charlotte who had been having activity in the rooms upstairs. One of them had picked up on the name ‘Harry’. It was about 1 a.m. now and we were already tired, after having a crap night’s sleep and riding motorbikes for several hours. So when nothing happened, Lynx and Jack took the opportunity to nap. Lynx was still filming. Professional, see. We wandered downstairs for photos and a chocolate biscuit. When we regrouped, they told us about the K2 activity they’d been getting upstairs. Lynx “so after we left then?” Yep. Repellents.

Old Crown Court BristolWe returned to the cells for a group vigil. Daisy, Charlotte and Bev were in one area, Alan and Andy were in another, us, Jack, Laura, Karrin and another Alan went to a different area of the cells. The amount of Alans in the small group confused us. We started suspecting every male who appeared there was Alan. Jean joined us, so when Jack was shut in a cell by himself, Cat hung Jean from the bars to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get too scared. Though Jean’s creepy face wedged between the bars probably wasn’t that comforting. We formed an outwards-facing circle and Alan wandered with our keys, trying to stir up the spirits. He was too polite, so Karrin took over. There was some bleeping from the Mel Meter, but we were too far to see which component was bleeping. Cat switched with Jack and took Jean in the cell with her, after he momentarily got his head stuck in the bars. He listened to live EVPs with her while Jack was put in the centre of our circle as bait. It was probably the best night of Jean’s life.Old Crown Court Bristol

We regrouped and two glowing balls were put on the floor. The idea is that if you stare at them long enough, they move. To be honest, this seemed like dodgy science to us. If you stare at anything for long enough, it looks like it’s moving. It’s an optical illusion. They were the only light source in a pitch black area, so that plays tricks on your eyes. Cat asked if anyone had anything to draw around the balls so we could see if they actually moved, but nobody did.

It was now 3:15 a.m. and we were knackered. Everyone headed upstairs for a group vigil with our least favourite piece of equipment – the spirit box. We must be the only ghost hunters who don’t like this piece of equipment and refuse to buy one just because all the ‘cool kids’ have one. One, the static irritates us. Two, the more we see it being used, the more we’re convinced it’s a glorified radio with a hefty price tag. It sweeps FM and AM frequencies and the idea is that spirits communicate through the white noise. We have a £10 portable radio from Argos that we could spin the dial on and it would probably be just as effective. If it’s just about the white noise, why does it have an aerial? The aerial apparently helps pick up voices. Radio stations more like. Also, it’s meant to sweep so fast that you wouldn’t be able to hear a voice. Then why can we hear music? Do the ghosts communicate through the Top 40? Is a DJ their spirit guide?

Old Crown Court BristolThis time, Cat joined Jack and Lynx in their nap. Whilst filming. Multitasking FTW. You see how our levels of professionalism have improved? As she would be driving home, she figured it was safer to nap in the courthouse than in the car. We left the court at 4 a.m. and weaved our way through the drunken clubbers to our car, using Jack’s technique of pretending we were drunk so they’d accept us as their own. Like with zombies. Well, we put failing to go into the paying area of the car park down to our inebriated state. Y’know, in case they were listening.Old Crown Court Bristol

So in terms of ghosts, nothing. In terms of fun, we had plenty. Finding the script was an unexpected highlight and provided much amusement. We didn’t think the place would be as big as it was and the cells were fantastic.

Roll on Drakelow Tunnels.Old Crown Court Bristol