Labyrinth hidden under Liverpool park with mysterious faces on wall

The bunker is part of a labyrinth of tunnels
-Credit: (Image: Kyle May)


A mysterious tunnel hidden underneath a Liverpool park offers a fascinating window into the past.

The bunker sits underneath Wavertree Botanic Gardens and is part of a labyrinth of tunnels that run underneath the Littlewoods building. It is thought to have been built before WWII and later used as an air raid shelter to protect workers at the Littlewoods site.

Liverpool was the second most bombed city in the UK outside of London during the Blitz. The Littlewoods bunker is said to have 13 different entrances, but one particular section of the bunker has previously caught the attention of explorers for the mysterious faces that line the walls.

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Back in 2018, Kyle May, from Bootle, tried to trace the people behind the drawings which have initials underneath them. Kyle previously told the ECHO: "It was a mystery, no one knows who painted them or who they are.

"But I noticed one of the faces had the initial U next to it and I thought there's not many names that begin with a U so I signed up for a free trial on Ancestory and started looking for people from that time with a name beginning with that letter."

Ursula Lois Forshaw was traced as the woman pictured in the illustration
Ursula Lois Forshaw was traced as the woman pictured in the illustration -Credit:Kyle May

After a lot of research, Kyle managed to narrow down his search to two possibilities and eventually one lady was left who seemed to fit the bill. He said: "She's a lady called Ursula Lois Forshaw.

"My search said this person is in somebody else's family tree and I managed to find him on LinkedIn as he'd stopped using Ancestry a while ago. I said to him 'I think this might be your aunty' and he contacted his brother to check . Then I got an email saying 'I'm sure it's my aunty'.

"She was in the Women's Air Force - I'm pretty sure she's the girl in the picture but there's no way of knowing for sure. Her nephews were the only relatives alive that were on her family tree."

Researchers have suggested that the quality of the drawings mean they were painted from life, possibly to entertain the occupants of the bunker during the Blitz as they waited for the all clear. Other research has suggested the sketches may show co-workers from the factory.

The illustrations on the wall of the Littlewoods bunker
The illustrations on the wall of the Littlewoods bunker -Credit:Kyle May

The iconic Littlewoods building was constructed in 1938 and was the headquarters of the football pools empire. However, it was vacated almost 30 years ago and has cut an increasingly dilapidated figure since.

During WWII, the Littlewoods building was requisitioned by the government and became the home of the postal censorship department, inspecting mail to prevent the risk of sensitive information crossing enemy lines. It was later used as a centre of manufacturing Halifax bomber parts.

The entrance to the bunker
The entrance to the bunker -Credit:Kyle May

After the war, the building was returned to Littlewoods Pools, which operated until its closure in November 1994. Since then, the distinctive art deco-style structure has stood empty, a fading monument to the retail giant's former empire.

The structure was devastated by a huge fire in 2018, while years of vandalism and urban decay have taken their toll. The site was acquired by Capital&Centric C&C in the same year as the fire and plans were announced to regenerate the site.

The site is set to be converted into one of the country's biggest TV and film studios. The Littlewoods Project plans to cement the city’s reputation as an international hub for film and TV production.

Liverpool is now the most filmed city in the UK outside London, with productions such as 'The Batman' and 'Peaky Blinders' using the region for filming in recent years. C&C began remediation works on the Edge Lane site in December.

The ECHO reported last month how several operators, including London-based cultural operator Broadwick, have expressed interest in letting the entire Littlewoods complex.

*Individuals are not encouraged to enter private and derelict premises under any circumstances for their own safety.

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