Entrance to the Longbridge tunnels (all photographs by the author)

Just below the surface of Longbridge, an area just outside of Birmingham, UK, amidst the various residential redevelopments, lies a series of forgotten tunnels that are now only enjoyed by the odd urban explorer who can find a way in. These otherwise neglected tunnels are one of many, but nonetheless important, relics of Midlands military history.

This network of tunnels was initially built in pre-war 1936. However, they really came into their own during WWII where they allowed for the concealed construction of aircraft engines and other components. By creating these “Shadow Tunnels,” the 10,000 workers employed down there were able to work regardless of the blackout regulations, whilst simultaneously staying well hidden from the Luftwaffe bombers.

Women assembling crankcases for aero engines in the tunnels

After the war, they were used as part of the MG Rover works, as well as a storage facility. Over the years, many rumors have sprung up about other things that have happened down there, as well as a great deal of speculation about a Mini Clubman car that was discovered with only 11 miles on the clock and almost beyond repair, though a Mini enthusiast bought the vehicle and paid to have it legally removed in 2012.

Now as Birmingham and the surrounding area undergoes various redevelopments, the tunnels have been discarded. Yet, as you can see from the pictures below, not a lot has changed over the years (aside from an inch or two of oily water covering the floor). Machinery and equipment still remains, though you need some rather powerful flashlights as absolutely no natural light infiltrates the tunnels.

This was taken just inside the entrance, you can see just how dark it gets as you delve into its depths

Some of the machinery that still remains


All photographs by Ophelia Holt.