Ramsgate’s Tunnels Explorer tours take you deep underground to unlock the story of a hidden city, which evolved from the largest and only known Civilian Deep Shelter Air Raid Precaution scheme authorised by Central Government.
The military story is told elsewhere, but very little remains of the civilian story of a front line town under some of the heaviest aerial bombing in Britain.
In 1939 Ramsgate’s ingenious Borough Engineer managed to get his scheme for sheltering the town's civilians in an underground city, put into practice with the help of the flamboyant 'Top Hat' Mayor. This went against Government policy at the time, and plans were rejected several times before the scheme was finally sanctioned to build 2½ miles of deep shelter tunnels.
Tunnel Explorer tours bring to life this most important part of Ramsgate’s history. As the town above was devastated, inhabitants took up residence in the Tunnels. By 1940, over 300 families were living permanently in the evolving underground city. Guides tell the story and bring it to life with residents’ anecdotes and authentic recreations of the Tunnel dwellings and facilities, in the original tunnels where it all happened.
* The floor surface is uneven and stony, and contains chalk dust.The atmosphere is cool and damp, at an average 11 degrees celsius, so appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn. The length of the tour is over an hour and covers approximately ¾ of a mile.*
In addition to guided tours, feel free to browse in the unique atmosphere of a 150-year-old railway tunnel, listen to oral histories, and discover more about the Tunnels through touch screens - or just relax at the Tunnel Teas Cafe, serving delicious home-made cakes and a range of hot and cold snacks.
The Free-to-enter Tunnel Museum and Home Front Collection is now open within the Tunnels, featuring displays ranging from Ramsgate's part in World War One, through the construction and use of the Tunnels, to the eventual closure, dereliction and reopening. It also displays part of the Tunnels' collection of Home Front memorabilia
There is both level (dropped-kerb) and gently sloped (concrete) wheelchair access to the entrance and along tunnels, but the ground is stony and uneven. For up to date information on accessibility please read the Accessibility Statement on the website. One Wheelchair & one Beach Wheelchair are available for use. Flat shoes must be worn; wheelchairs and pushchairs may be difficult to operate. Please telephone in advance if you wish to book a wheelchair for your tour.
The Tunnel Tours have low lighting and parts are unlit although personal lighting is issued. There are no rest seats available during the tour although ‘shooting sticks’ may be available to borrow. The atmosphere is cool and damp, at an average 11 degrees celsius. The length of the tour is over an hour and covers approximately ¾ of a mile. Appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn.
Assistance Dogs are welcome.
Free entry for carers with Carer’s Card.
The nearest accessible parking, public pay and display, is less than 100m away, adjacent to the Ramsgate Tunnels' entrance.
Accessible toilets are situated less than 100m away, at the Bathing Station Kiosk, Marina Esplanade (beach side), or at East Pier Yard (CT11 8LP).
A 50p booking fee applies to Adult & Senior tickets to cover online charges
Please see website for tour availability, how to book and any restrictions