Norma Pearson (nee Hadley)
On Holiday In The 1940s.
I was born in 1942, so what went on behind those gates at Drakelow Tunnels was of no interest to me. My sister said there was always a guard outside, and a noise could be heard, especially at night, and she was lead to believe it was the air conditioning.
BUT, what did interest me, as a little girl, was all that lovely sand. The tunnels were 3½ miles long, excavated in the sandstone hills of Kinver - that's a lot of sand. Just imagine it dumped and piled high in the fields opposite, with the top all levelled off and across the lane from that was our 'Holiday Cottage'. Well it wasn't exactly a cottage but the body of one of my dad's furniture vans with the front propped up on oil drums because the ground sloped down towards the lane.
The space above the cab was fitted out with a mattress, and we climbed the wooden strips that were fastened to the side of the van to get into bed. There was a table and chairs and other bits and bobs in the body of the van, and a door and window at the back.
Near by was the kitchen comprised of corrugated iron sheets - a 3-sided affair with a corrugated tin roof. The cooking was done on a cast iron stove, and fuel was no problem, just go and cut down a tree!
We had to fetch the water from a tap on the main road a few hundred yards down the lane and it was stored in a carboy near the 'kitchen'.
We spent hours playing in the sand. I remember my brother and two cousins fashioned a cafe for me, and I'd serve them tea and rabbit 'peas' using my dolls tea set. The boys tried to catch rabbits by making snares out of the yellow wire that they found in the sand and placing the loop at the rabbit holes but they never caught a rabbit, or anything for that matter. There was also a shallow brook to play about in, what a lovely way to spend our summer days.
On our way to and from our van we passed another holiday 'Des. Res'. It was an old railway carriage, and it was still there long after our van was finally decommissioned.
I've since been to see the Drakelow Tunnels, I went on a guided tour a few years ago and found it most interesting. There are plans to open them up as a museum and cafe -- now I'm interested -- mind you, it has taken about 70 years.
Plan of the Drakelow Tunnels in the 1940's
© M.P.L.H.G. 2014