Hidden tunnels under the river Cam

September 17th, 2018

Occasionally the river is drained so that the colleges can conduct work on the river banks. The river drops and exposes passageways leading towards the ancient colleges.

The most prominent passageway

Is located upstream of Garret hostel bridge, outside of college. Trinity Hall is one of the oldest colleges which dates back to 1350. The Tunnel which opens onto the river when the river is drained is only a meter high but is probably deeper without the sediment. The river was once wider and more shallow, so it’s possible that it was an access to the boats.

There was rumoured to have been a tunnel running from Abbey House in Barnwell under the Cam to Jesus College. This tunnel could well have passed under Trinity hall college. The Tunnel was supposedly a means for monks to escape from the black death.

Other legendary tunnels

It is possible that there was a tunnel next to Clare college bridge which provided access to the river beneath the garden. You can see the shape of an arch if you look closely at the brick river bank.

There are also arches beneath Queen’s college which have been bricked up. This indicates that in the past there were moorings within the college. This building dates back to 1416.

Tunnels today

Cambridge University has a huge network of basements which run around the city centre. It’s difficult to say exactly the extent of the tunnel network, however, part of them are used as the Kings College student bar.

In 2017, Cambridge News announced possible plans to dig tunnels across the city for traffic control. It would be interesting to see what historic tunnels they come across.

To get up close and personal with the Cam’s architecture, book your Cambridge punting tour today.