Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker

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Thread Topic: Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
Topic Originator: Nick McCarthy
Post Date February 1, 2014 @ 12:30 PM
 Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
 Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
  Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
  Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
  Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
 RE: Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
 Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
 RE: Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker
  Williamson Cliffe Brickyard WW2 Underground Bunker

Nick McCarthy
February 1, 2014 @ 12:30 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

I recently had a very interesting conversation with my barber, Gerry Cummins, whereupon we ended up chatting about some of the older Stamford clientele he has had over the years, and the stories they had about Stamford in WW2.

One such story we discussed was that of a gentlemen who had told him several years ago, that during the war, in the wooded area towards the rear of the then Williamson Cliffe quarry buildings, there was constructed a series of underground tunnels/ bunkers to serve a Special Operations Executive contingent or guerilla force of volunteers. (Otherwise known as Churchills Secret Army).
These bunkers, my barber was told, were built to house a local resistance movement, should Hitlers army have invaded Britain. Groups of SOE would go to ground and act as the resistance movement, conducting acts of espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance against the Axis Powers.
This story aroused my interest, as I had often thought, on the numerous occasions I have taken walks around the wooded area to the rear of the brickyard that there looked to be the remains/ traces of some kind of underground structure.
The deeps pits in the wood never struck me as being for the purposes of quarrying but rather something different  and this possibility of there having been an underground war time bunker kind of makes sense.
Supposedly after the war, around the time of the 1960s-70s, these tunnels/ bunkers were destroyed, and existence of them hushed up.
The known operations of the SOE are still very restricted and I have been unable to find anything online to suggest that there was a bunker or SOE division based near Stamford  but this, given the secretive nature of the operation, does not surprise me.
I wonder if anyone can shed any light on this  whether there is any fact in there having been a bunker of some sort , or whether what my barber was told, was merely the product of false rumor and conjecture.
Many thanks

February 9, 2014 @ 11:48 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

There may be some truth in what you have written.  Williansom Cliffe's was used by The Home Guards in the war and they had an Anti-Aircraft Gun mounted on the small chimney by the field near the Hills and Hollows.
The Home Guards also did training up the Clay Pits abseiling down the clay walls.
There must be someone out there who can add to this.

Clem Walden
February 9, 2014 @ 7:11 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Nick, I am aware that Williamson Cliffe quarries/woods were used by the Stamford branch of the Home Guards during WW2 under the leadership I believe of Mr Gordon Turnhill [a local noted photographer] but I personally do not recall any tunnels/bunkers being built  for a local SOE to house a resistance movement?  
There were however various activities carried out by the Home Guard throughout WW2 period within the Williamson Cliffe Clay Pits and wooded areas. And the deep pits in the woods you mention were there in my childhood days 1940s.
I feel sure if such tunnels or bunkers ever existed the local lads and girls would have found them and and made good use of them as the whole site of Williamson Cliffe quarry's and woods were their daily play areas.
My childhood school friends played within this area throughout the late 1940s. And many of my old friends ended up working at Williamson in the 1950s. So I would have thought if there were any truth in your barbers tale numerous Stamford locals would have been aware.
Perhaps the next time you visit your barber you will ask him who the gentleman was that told him this story.

Bill Turnill
June 24, 2017 @ 12:00 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

I am Gordon Turnill,s son, and I remember being left with my two sisters, Pam and Wendy to play in the Hills and Hollows, while my father went off to do his Home Guard thing on Sunday morning. He was a Major in the Stamford Home Guard, taking over from Frank Iliffe. I remember buying him a cardboard periscope for his birthday, to look out for marauding Germans, and I became quite a good shot with a .22 rifle which I planned to shoot any invaders from my bedroom windows. My father also went up onto the roof with his sten gun to take a pot shot at the German bomber which strafed Stamford at one time. The Bomber was obviously aware of the hazard since it did not return to repeat the exercise!

clem walden
July 3, 2017 @ 3:28 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Bill, Your father took many photos of my family my sisters and I still have several. Gordon Turnhill  was the only place to go for quality photos in those far off days. Your Dad also use to visit most of the schools in the 40s/50s taking all the school photos. I remember him in the home guard and many other locals that did their bit.  Thanks for the memories.

Bill Turnill
July 12, 2017 @ 9:12 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Thank you Clem for your kind words about my father. For the record, there is No H in our name although we sometimes fight a losing battle over its inclusion!

clem walden
July 18, 2017 @ 9:31 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Bill sorry for the 'H' I very often have a similar problem when people spell my surname 'Waldron' instead of 'Walden'  Gordon did of course normally put his name on his excellent photographs so I should have known about about the 'H' but there you go go, Not really my fault   just another senior moment? Kind Regards

Bill Turnill
July 31, 2017 @ 2:20 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

No problem! I am sometimes tempted to change my name by deed poll, but then everyone would leave out the H! Best wishes, Bill

Chris Cooke
November 15, 2017 @ 9:55 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

the deep pits in the woods always had a lot of rubble about, so maybe they were bunkers, the mortar and bricks were easy to break in your hands, it was almost certainly 'lime mortar' which was easy to scratch away to replace single bricks if they were broken back then... maybe the bunker collapsed at some point leaving the rubble as it is today