Why Tunnel Anyway?
Once upon a time there were some woods, a short distance from
a bend in the river. A wide gully led up, past more woods. On
one side of the gully a few individuals set up camp. A hole was
dug. The hole got bigger. And that, to cut along story short,
is how personally for me it all started. The woods are there no
longer; but in a world of money, costly evictions act as a deterrent
to those who wish to cause even more damage to the planet in the
In other words, well-built tunnels hinder the forces of darkness,
and attract the media (which of course can be good and bad, depending
on how it is handled). Enough said!
Gather your tools together - at first all you need is a spade
or shovel (trenching tools can be quite effective) - and find
a place to start. Pick a spot close to the main area of the camp,
or fire pit: firstly; this is where other potential tunnellers
will be (and you'll be after bucketeers before long!), but more
importantly it minimises the danger of the tunnel being pigged
with no-one in it when the eviction starts. Bear in mind that
eviction could come any time, and therefore you need to get inside
If you have a bank (or cliff) to tunnel into this means you can
get quite deep quickly. This gives flexibility as, when sufficiently
deep, there is nothing to stop you tunnelling up as well as down!
- the more complex the tunnel, the more difficult it is to evict,
and the more opportunity there is for cunning defences. One big
problem that is worth considering at this stage is that of water,
of the unwanted kind. Wet tunnels are unpleasant; flooded tunnels
can be a write-off.
A shelter over the shaft will keep out rainwater and run-off;
and drainage channels may be required to remove groundwater; (though
if you dig into a hill-side, the slope will probably be efficient
enough at removing water). More importantly you may strike water
underground. Dramatic gushings-in of water are unheard of; but
slow leaks are a common problem. Woodland tunnels tend to be dry;
whereas those underground fields tend to be wet: trees soak up
groundwater; and fields are quoggy morasses. So you've picked
your spot? Then onto...
Unless you are digging into a near-vertical face, you will have
to dig a vertical shaft first. This is because there needs to
be a sufficient thickness of earth above a tunnel for it to be
self-supporting. Imagine a 2' high tunnel, with only 6" of earth
above -and what would happen if someone walked over it (if not
before)! A good rule of thumb to avoid collapse is to ensure there
is a thickness of earth on top (i.e. between the surface and the
tunnel roof) that is twice the height of the tunnel you intend
Another rule of thumb is to have a tunnel width of just over
2' and a height of 2' to 2'6", as this gives you a good amount
of room to work in quickly, but is not so large as to be unstable.
Narrower tunnels can and have been dug but the cramped working
area means that it actually takes longer to dig (shovels particularly
will be impossible to use effectively), longer to make defences,
and longer to spoil out (a very tedious job in the best of conditions).
People who dig narrow tunnels often say that it means that those
getting you out will have to dig it wider. This is true, but it
takes very little time to widen a tunnel when you are digging
you will find that once a narrow hole is made, it takes comparatively
little time to dig out the earth around it. It is also more feasible
to concrete the walls and roof of wide tunnels and it is a lot
more work for them to remove concrete than dig out earth. You
will find that after concreting the tunnel becomes quite narrow
anyway. Narrow tunnels are also less pleasant to live and work
in (you can't move along them easily or quickly, can't turn around
can't pass other people), and the psychological aspects of being
underground continuously for long periods of time in a confined
space cannot be underestimated. Basically, narrow tunnels cause
you much more hassle than it does them - unfortunately
the term 'wormhole' has achieved undeserved status in some circles.
So you need a 6' deep shaft (minimum). It is worth though giving
yourself a bit more flexibility and safety with the height; and
go to at least 7'6". How much further you go beyond that depends
a lot on how much of a rush you are in - if possible go to 10',
or even further. Make the shaft a comfortable width for getting
materials (and yourselves!) in and out - about 3' square is fine.
When digging the shaft buckets will start coming in useful, and
hence bucketeers (not to mention people for digging, concreting,
etc). You could do it yourself but a one person tunnel team will
be tiring, tedious and is unrealistic. Be careful though of entrusting
knowledge of a tunnel to people you don't know well - while there
is no point in being paranoid, better to be safe, and genuine
people will not be offended by being turned away, or not being
allowed further than the entrance shaft, as long as you explain
your reasons. In fact it is worthwhile to not allow anyone
in the tunnel without the permission of the core group
of tunnellers. Some may regard this as too authoritarian or elitist,
but it is wise from the point of view of safety, security and
simply to stop people, especially 'tourists', from getting in
Eventually you will want to start digging inwards. At first there
may not be enough room to use the shovel, in which case a lump
hammer and chisel/ bolster/trowel will come in useful. Normal
trowels tend to disintegrate after being bashed for a few days
with a lump hammer, so it is useful finding a friendly blacksmith
who will make one out of 1/4" steel. The type of ground you are
going through is also relevant - it may be too stony to kick a
spade or shovel farm, in which case pick may be more efficient.
After awhile you'll be ready for...
Shoring makes things safer, and provides something to fix tunnel
doors onto. To what extent you will shore up, and to what degree
of elaboration depends on the size of the space you are digging
and what you are digging through.
If you are confident enough in the ground you are digging through,
you may even want to leave some sections unshored, as those evicting
you will probably spend time (and hence money) shoring it themselves.
Unshored tunnels are best dug to an arched cross section for safety.
This also means they will have to square it off before shoring.
Don't assume that in an eviction they will spend time shoring
it all up themselves unless you have a really long
unshored section or it is near the entrance (where it looks good
to both the Health & Safety folks and the media). Conversely,
they may take out (and replace) anything you do put in, so that
they can dig the tunnel wider. Also, shoring with doors attached
is likely to be removed with the doors anyway.
So put basic shoring in most of the tunnel. Short bits that are
awkward to shore due to their shape may be left out providing
you are digging through very solid material. Apart from the safety
issue, you need something to fix doors to. Psychologically, people
will feel better with tunnels shored.
You will need joists of at least 2" x 3" timber, preferably 2"
x 4" or 3" x 3". Pine is easier to work with than hardwoods, and
hardwoods are difficult to force (hammer) into place if a tight
fit, so you have to cut them to precisely the right length to
avoid them being loose. This is easier said than done, as tunnels
are never perfectly square or level, so are difficult to measure
Boards should be 3/4" plywood (or similar). In the UK, boards
tends to come in 8' x 4' standard sizes, so if you dig to a width
of just over 2', boards can be cut from this by cutting it in
two lengthways. Shore in 2'to3' long sections, with the boards
supported at each end by joists.
The diagram shows how to shore up the roof only, with the upright
joists recessed (optionally) into the side walls. To assemble,
hold the board up (this is a job best done with two people), and
hold up the cross beam at one end (a lump hammer maybe needed
if it is a tight fit). Drop the two uprights into pits dug into
the floor to a depth of around 4" and hammer (assuming they are
a tight fit) them in place at the top. This should be enough to
hold up the board while you do likewise with the cross beam and
uprights at the other end.
This is fine for the main tunnel, providing the ground is reasonably
solid, e.g. most dry clays. If you are going to fix doors to this
shoring, it may be better not to recess the joists, hit to surround
them in concrete instead to make it more difficult for them to
The previous diagram shows full shoring for the roof and sides.
Use this for chambers and when tunelling through crumbly ground.
Note the spreader (which can be thinner than the other joists)
along the bottom which avoids the uprights sinking under pressure,
and the extra set of cross beams to avoid the side boards and
uprights collapsing inwards. Assemble as for the last method,
but put the spreaders in first, and the extra cross beams at the
very end. Note that the spreaders and bottom cross beams are recessed
into channels dug into the floor. Combine these methods, if you
You should not have to nail in the shoring; it must be such a
tight fit that it needs the lump hammer to get everything in place.
However, if you nail the shoring in 'cosmetically' after it is
done, it makes it more difficult to remove in the eviction. Particularly
good are 5" or 6" nails put through the cross beams, through
the roofing boards, and into the earth above.
Shoring noticeably makes your tunnel smaller, so you may feel
it worthwhile never shoring closer than 2' to the end of your
tunnel, ensuring there is plenty of room to dig. The tunnel roof
needs to be level to ensure close contact between the shoring
and the tunnel. The larger the gaps, the greater the distance
earth will have to fall before it hits the shoring. therefore
the greater the forces involved, and the greater the chance of
the shoring breaking. A lump hammer plus chisel/bolster/trowel
will come in quite useful for levelling the roof and sides, as
well as for cutting recesses for the joists. Unfortunately all
this can double the time required for digging the tunnel (and
that is before you start adding doors etc).
A problem often encountered when fixing doors to shoring is that
the shoring is not square, so you either have to make a door to
an awkward shape, or have big gaps around the sides. An easy way
to avoid this problem is to shore up as follows.
The trick is to dig out the pits in the floor for the uprights
with their inside edges (i.e. those nearest the walls)
a measured distance apart, say 2'. Then, nail two brackets (scrap
wood will suffice) to the cross beam with their outside edges
the same distance apart. Put the cross beams in first (you will
need to dig recesses in the walls for the cross beams as shown
in the diagram, but these will hold them up loosely while you
pit the board and uprights in). Now slide the board in. Then,
get some tightly fitting uprights and hammer them in till they
stop against the brackets. The tops of the uprights will now be
the same distance apart as the bottoms. The only other measurement
to check is that the diagonals of the aperture are the same -
this is to avoid ending up with a parallelogram shape fur the
aperture. The aperture, and hence door required for a good fit,
will now be square.
The uprights in this instance are a few inches in from the tunnel
sides - so you may want to dig it a few inches wider. The reason
for this is that they can be concreted in so that the shoring
is harder to remove, and it is best if the concrete completely
surrounds the uprights. If adjacent sections of shoring are concreted,
form the concrete in one continuous block - this makes it much
harder to remove than if there are lots of short sections.
These concrete walls can also act as side shoring if an extra
cross beam is pit just below the main one at the top (as shown)
to prevent collapses from the sides.
You'll need a source of light, head torches being ideal - with
rechargeable batteries if practical. Petzl Zooms are ideal - Megas
and Micros are OK, but Megas are more awkward in small
spaces due to the bigger battery pack (they are not any brighter
than Zooms), while Micros are a bit dim unless you are digging
wormholes (in which case they are ideal because there is no large
battery pack to get in the way). A Zoom or Mega with halogen bulb,
and diffuser if possible, is ideal if you decide to take video
footage of the tunnel, although be aware that halogen bulbs reduce
battery life by around 7O%. Candles are feasible (don't listen
to anyone who says they eat all your oxygen - candles will go
out before you do!), but if you have long hair like me, then using
candles in confined spaces tends to result in setting your
hair on fire, something I have now done six times.
You will also need candles for the eviction, as they provide
the cheapest form of light for reading by, but don't risk falling
asleep with one burning. A tunnel fire could be disastrous - burns,
smoke, lack of oxygen - and sleeping bags are highly flammable.
For the same reason, don't do what some people did in Devon and
try out lock-ons by candlelight.
[N.B. This information conflicts with other sources who advise
minimising candle use by stringing up fairy lights from car batteries.
Fire is a very real risk.]
A twisted tunnel, with a variation (doesn't have to be big) in
width and height may be more difficult to evict as it will be
more difficult to shore. It will also be more difficult for anyone
to predict where it actually goes! Corners and shafts, particularly
up-shafts, are going to be more difficult for people to work in,
so are good places for doors or lock-ons. You'll also need to
think about chambers, doors and or lock-ons. A lot depends on
how much time you have if you have only a week or so until eviction,
and little resources to construct doors, then it may be more worthwhile
having a succession of lock-ons, arranged so that people have
to be dug out one at a time. If you have a bit more time then
doors are more effective, providing they are done properly -more
of that later. If the eviction is likely to be more than one day,
as it hopefully will, you will need a chamber to sleep in, as
well as storage areas. If you are going to be there some time
and have plenty of time to prepare, a 3' high and 3' wide chamber
is fine (but make sure its is deep enough to be safe from collapse).
This means you can sit up and also curl up when you go to bed
(this latter point sounds mundane, but it's damn annoying kipping
in a chamber that stops you doing this!). If you are not going
to be there long (which probably means you are in rush to dig
the tunnel) a 2' wide and 2'6" chamber is fine - which is the
same as the suggested size of the main tunnel. Storage areas need
to branch off the sides, and either alcoves or shelves cut in
the wall are fine. The important thing is that once the eviction
order is made, you are able to have everything necessary for the
eviction down with you all the time without getting in
the way of you working. Bucketing becomes a major problem after
a while -you'll find that at some point sacks tied with rope nooses
are easier to haul out than buckets. Make sure you have a reasonably
long bit of rope, then it's just a matter of crawling along; pulling
the sack up to you, crawling along pulling the sack up to you.
At the end of Cake Hole one hour of digging gave rise to five
or six hours of bucketing!
Another necessary piece of equipment is an air pipe. A number
of things can prevent good circulation (lots of people in the
tunnel, up-shafts, narrow tunnels) and this affects different
people to different extents. It is also needed in the event of
collapse - it may be the only source of fresh air in that case.
Pick flexible piping that is at least 25mm in diameter, but if
it is larger. e.g. 50mm. it will be more efficient. Don't hacksaw
it but cut it with a knife to avoid plastic shavings, and make
sure you always have a knife with you in the tunnel as you may
not be able to get to the other end of the pipe in a collapse.
Do not to bend the pipe too sharply as kinks will reduce the airflow.
Whether it is best to run it along the floor, or the sides, is
debatable - in a collapse it may be less likely to break
on the floor, but it is more likely to be accessible quickly if
it is along the sides. At the entrance of the tunnel, the pipe
should have a fan on the end which can be powered from a 12V car
battery (a computer fan is sufficient, and won't use much battery
power). Make sure that those on the surface know if there is a
collapse, the fan must be switched on! This is why the fan is
safest on the surface as opposed to inside the tunnel. Bear in
mind that without a fan, the pipe will be pretty inefficient in
Make sure that rainwater and mud cannot get down the pipes, ie.
the ends should be raised off the ground at the tunnel entrance.
If water/mud does get in then it will form pockets that stop the
airflow. To remove it, get someone to blow down the pipe at the
top, and catch it in a bucket at the tunnel end. If it's been
in there some days, it will be stagnant and stinks, so make sure
you do this before the eviction, otherwise when the eviction air
supply (which tends to have a very high flow rate) gets turned
on, it will probably get pushed out then, making things very wet
and very smelly.
Stale air also needs to get out. If your doors are tight fits
and with no gaps around the shoring (which is good from a defensive
point of view), make sure short sections of air pipe go around/through
the door frame. It is also a good idea to have an extra pipe going
the full length of the tunnel to remove stale air in case of collapse.
Whatever your arrangement, though, in the interests of safety
try to ensure that appropriate people have samples of your air
pipe so that those evicting you can bring along something to connect
to it. At the very least they will have an air compressor, and
it has been known for bottled air to be pumped down tunnels!
Doors are best constructed out of more than one material - a
ply/sheet metal/ply sandwich for example. This is because blades
to cut through wood will not cut metal, and to a significant extent,
the reverse also applies. A rubber sheet somewhere would probably
not go amiss, it would be such a shame if the heat from a saw
blade or drill bit melted the rubber and knackered the tool in
question. Make the door pretty thick - in the example mentioned,
the ply would beat least 3/4". The one exception to a laminated
tunnel door is having a very thick (e.g. 10mm steel) door made
by a friendly blacksmith, that cannot easily fall victim to an
Door frames should be made solid - assuming you are fixing them
to shoring, the joists in question should be strong - ideally
3" x 3" or thicker. This also gives a good thickness of wood to
drive screws into. To avoid the frames being lifted out; concrete
them in on both sides. It is worth spiking doorframes with nails,
and nails only partly concreted in will 'key' concrete onto the
frame. More nails fixing the joists together will make the door
more resistant to eviction.
The hinges and bolts used should be heavy duty; T-hinges are
the strongest, and you may want to use as many the size of the
door allows! Screws should be at least 08. A potential weak point
if entry is attempted using brute force and ignorance, is where
the bolts go into the door frame - the small brackets supplied
with most bolts provide holes for only two screws. You may
get away with it if the screws are 08, but from experience
I can say that 06 screws are not good enough. It is probably better
to fabricate your own solution to the problem, possibly involving
metal or wood screwed to the frame and maybe backed by concrete.
One idea that has been tried with some success is having an extra
set of T-hinges attached to this side of the frame, which then
get attached to the door at the last minute with nails.
Another weakness is the gap between door and door frame - it
is worthwhile trying to get the frame as square/rectangular as
possible, and to make the door fit this precisely (though be careful
when installing tight fitting doors that you don't shut yourself
in behind a door that won't open!). There will still be a gap
though, however small, that a crowbar or sawblade (to cut the
hinges/bolts) could get through. Assuming it is a metal blade
for cutting hinges or bolts, put some wood in the way. A better
way to avoid this problem is to cover the gap in the first place
by putting an extra set of joists in front of the door (concreted
in if possible!). Don't just cover by the hinges and bolts to
stop the saw - remember that a crowbar can get in at any of the
four sides if there is a gap.
Don't forget that last minute modifications such as nailing on
extra hinges stop you getting out in a hurry - so should be just
that - last minute! As they are last minute they also need to
be quick so make sure any screws already have decent pilot holes
so you can drive them in all the way quickly. You may feel that
nails are better on balance because of this, or a combination
of nails and screws, with the nails hammered in first, the screws
last. Probably the most effective quick addition are long nails
through the door into the surrounding frame.
You may not require any lock-on at all - if there are lots of
doors that are definitely going to take a while to get through,
you may not feel it worthwhile. If you are not sure of that though,
a lock-on at the end of the tunnel can be a good insurance policy
if the doors don't turn out to be as good as you thought. Also
lock-ons can be put in quickly - so are good if you have not the
time to get good doors in. Lock-ons in tunnels can be made much
more awkward to remove than surface or even tree lock-ons, and
probably the best advice here is to let your imagination run riot!
A good tactic is to have someone in front of a door locked behind
it. This hinders them working on the door which needs to be removed
before the person can be unlocked. The actual 'lock' in this case
can be as simple as a chain around the wrist, attached to a rope
that is tied to some sturdy shoring. Obviously you need a gap
either in the door or next to it, for an arm to fit through -
but the good thing about this type of lock-on is that if they
enlarge this hole, someone else inside the tunnel can pull the
locked-on arm further in, and re-attach it!
Protest sites are usually full of people who know how to make
lock-ons, but I'll briefly go over it anyway for the benefit of
others. You need a tube, about 2 long that is arm-sized. Metal
is best, but drainpipe is sufficient and easier to work with.
Put a rod perpendicularly through the tube near one end - this
is so someone can slip onto it using a karabiner (climbing 'clip')
attached to their wrist via rope, tape, or preferably chain. Be
careful that this wrist clip isn't a self-tightening noose that
could constrict circulation to the hand. This is surrounded in
concrete, maybe in a metal barrel, maybe buried in the ground,
or maybe a combination of both (some cooking oil barrels are handily
I'll assume you know, or know someone who can show you how to
mix basic concrete. A mix of aggregate, sand and cement in the
ratio3:2:1 is a good general purpose mix though 4:2:1 is fine
if you need more bulk. Use small aggregate; around 5mm, otherwise
as small as possible. Granite chippings are hard, as is gravel;
limestone is soft, and therefore a last resort.
It is best to reinforce any concrete with metal as they will
need to keep swapping tools to get through the concrete and metal.
Put the metal in place first -chicken wire is surprisingly effective
and relatively easy to get hold of. The worst thing in concrete
is air holes, and this is quite a problem if chicken wire is stopping
the wet mix flowing into the lock-on (you could try adding bits
of chicken wire as you pour the mix in, rather than beforehand).
Either use a stick to press it down, or hit the sides of any barrel
with a hammer, and it should minimise the problem. Making the
mix quite wet also helps it flow down.
For various reasons some people recommend glass and/or rubber
in the mix. The reasoning is that glass is hard to cut through
(though it does shatter rather easily!), and rubber will hold
up a kango hammer by causing it to rebound (though they are less
likely to use a kango in a tunnel, especially as it will be difficult
to hold and work with in a confined space). Personally, I would
not bother with either rubber or glass, as they both weaken the
mix; and shattering glass stands a fair chance of damaging someone's
eyes - most likely yours!
When concreting walls you'll need to put shuttering in. These
are wooden boards that hold the wet mix in place while it sets.
Apart from the confined space, the main problem I have found with
concrete in tunnels, is that you cannot put shuttering in completely
to the top (you need a hole to pour it through!). Unfortunately
there is no way that I know of to get round this.
You may like to run the air pipes through the concrete, so that
they are more cautious while chipping it away - this also means
that the gaps the pipes run through do not serve as weak points
around the doors. In fact, you could even mix in some dummy air
pipes - they of course, will not know which is which.
Fortifying The Entrance
It is worthwhile paying particular attention to the entrance,
for a number of reasons. Firstly it should be quick and easy to
get past the first door, and to shut it (the eviction could start
at any time, not just when you are working or sleeping underground).
This is more important than having a well fortified first door,
and there is nothing wrong with it simply being a flimsy trapdoor
at the shaft mouth, that just gives time for people to get into
the main part of the tunnel and/or into lock-ons.
The other big consideration is that lock-ons around the entrance,
or in the entrance shaft mean that people who do not want to go
underground can take an active part in the eviction. People locked
on, possibly around doors (as mentioned under 'lock-ons') greatly
slow down the eviction as more care needs to be taken with people
than objects, which can mean a slow eviction. Also, people locked-on
in the shaft mean that others have that bit more time to get in
to the main part of the tunnel, and to shut the door, without
Multiple shaft lock-ons could be mounted above each other, either
in the walls or on strong timber platforms, which
would be more effective than individual separate lock-ons, as
those doing the evicting will have less room and will need to
take more care (and therefore time). A good thing about shaft
lock-ons is that they will not necessarily go entirely to waste
if no-one reaches them come eviction time, as concrete will still
have to be removed if it is in the way. A surface fort is worthwhile,
and can provide sleeping space for people who are going to lock-on
around the shaft (presumably, tunnellers will be sleeping underground).
It needn't be complex, and can just be a wooden hut surrounded
and/or covered with the spoil taken out from the tunnel. It will
probably have to be taken down in the eviction, to provide a working
space for those evicting you, and to provide room to get tools
and material in and out. The door to a fort should be at least
strong enough to give time for the occupants to lock-on, etc.
...is really nice actually, though I do have problems convincing
people of its merits. There are some pitfalls though.
If the main tunnel is big enough for more than one person, make
sure that everyone is going to get on with each other in a confined
space. Everyone may be getting on just fine normally, but problems
can arise when stuck together for a few days in a hole in the
ground. For example, people do need to give each other space and
privacy, not be incessant talkers, but still be pleasant to talk
to when you do that. You may even feel that a one-person tunnel
is not such a bad thing - that way you have the company of 'their'
tunnellers by day but your own space at night.
Another problem that may arise is that even if at first, people
do not want to be living in the tunnel, there are times when everyone
seems to want to be there. This is a good reason to decide early
on who is going to live there (it should be people out of the
core group who will presumably be keen, have done plenty of work,
and spent a lot of time underground). Be careful of late additions
to this group - you need to know that everyone who is likely to
get evicted from the tunnel is stable and easy to get on with.
Ground rules should be set early, and fixed - any newcomers should
You do need to be sure that people are not going to lose their
bottle - during a false eviction alert at Devon, one person was
literally fighting to get out. Having someone leave because of
this, means opening and quite possibly losing one of the doors.
To guard against this, make sure that everyone who might be in
the main tunnel (ie. not counting shaft lock-ons) during the eviction
spends a lot of time below ground, including sleeping.
These are all good reasons to have a small core group that already
knows each other well, know they can get on with each other, and
who knows that the others in the group are stable. As mentioned
previously, this may sound elitist, but it gets the job done and
avoids personality problems. Even if someone comes along to help
and does lots of work, this does not necessarily mean that they
will be underground in the eviction. Be especially careful of
people who turn up, want to join in, but end up doing little work
At night you need to sleep in the tunnel if there is the threat
of eviction, and it is not a bad idea to sleep there anyway, both
to get used to it, and to guard against unwanted guests. This
may mean evicting enthusiastic helpers at night, and locking the
doors to prevent similar wake-up calls, so that you get sleep,
space and privacy. If you are the enthusiastic helper, then don't
be offended by this - it's just that the people who are going
to be evicted will be also by necessity living in the tunnel before
the eviction, and need sleep, space and privacy just like anyone
Tunnel occupants may end up keeping odd hours as well, especially
if like me you don't like getting up in the morning but are happy
to be working through the night. It's best not to get too nocturnal
as it can make your body do weird things and means that others
aren't as able to help you - though it can make pixieing more
Firstly good luck, take care, and may the force be with yon.
Secondly, don't assume you'll have more than a few seconds warning
before you have to leave your hot mug of tea, and have to leg
it down your hole.
Thirdly, remember the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy DON'T
If all goes to plan, you'll have shut yourself underground, and
any lock-ons in the entrance will be occupied. Before long, a
bloke in a red jacket and a red hard hat will come along and read
out a notice saying that everyone should leave now or face arrest
under Section 10 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. If you hear this,
you would of course, being a law-abiding citizen, leave forthwith.
Unfortunately, being down the tunnel you can't hear this. After
a while one of two groups of people will turn up.
One group, popularly known as the 'Men in Black', dress funnily
enough, in black - from head to toe, and with balaclavas on. This
lot are from International Mine Rescue, run by Pete Faulding and
as far as we know are ex-special forces (e.g SAS and SBS). They
are experts who know what they are doing, are used to man-made
holes in the ground, and will take good care that everyone gets
out safely. They have never been violent or nasty, so be nice
to them as well. For all these reasons they are preferred by both
protesters and under-sheriffs. They did the Fairmile eviction
(of Swampy fame), the Manchester Airport evictions, and the eviction
at the Huntingdon 'Death' Sciences protest camp.
The other group, Richard Turner and Associates (RTA), who are
the people who evict protesters from trees, are less predictable.
They have so fur done just two tunnel evictions -Trollheim and
Bluebell Woods in Manchester. Trollheim was very violent by all
accounts, and little attention was paid to Health and Safety,
which resulted in them getting their wrists slapped by the HSE.
The Bluebell Woods eviction was not violent at all, although it
was obvious that unlike IMR they are not experts (and hence not
as safe) in man-made holes (some of them are cave rescue, but
that is quite a different thing - caves don't need shoring and
are somewhat less likely to collapse). The thing about RTA is
that they are a bunch of varied people - Tim, 'Mousse' and one
of the Richards (not Turner) who ran the show at Bluebell were
friendly enough, but there are others in RTA who probably wouldn't
At first, it may seem like there is very little you can do, but
all the time you can be listening to what's going on, and doing
last minute improvements. You'll inevitably end up chatting to
whoever's getting you out, and when they are working on the doors,
you can be doing whatever repairs you can from your side. If you
have an intercom running up to the trees, then you have someone
else to talk to, and if that fails, local radio are a good bet
for finding out how things are going. Eventually, they will get
to you, and bring you out. You'll probably get arrested for obstructing
the sheriff's officers, though you should be given time to bring
your property out unless they do that for you. If you come out
before they get you out, you may be able to avoid being arrested,
but that has only happened once. If arrested, you probably will
be convicted, but it typically involved a one year conditional
discharge, and a small order for costs (e.g. £40).
Appendix A - Tools and Equipment
Spade/shovel/trenching tool. It's a good idea to have one
always around at the top as a safety measure.
Cold chisel and (or bolster and/or trowel (preferably a purpose
made heavy duty trowel).
Sharp panel saw for cutting shoring.
Appropriate tools for door and lock-on construction (doors
can also be made off site -but make sure they can fit down
If required for installing doors, a screwdriver for fixing
hinges and bolts, and a drill to pit in pilot holes (alternatively
hammer nails in, then extract them with claw hammer or crowbar,
leaving a pilot hole).
Crowbar if possible - tends to come in useful for lots of
Buckets and/or sacks/and rope.
Head torch and batteries.
Appendix B - Eviction Stashes
Food that doesn't go off, and doesn't need cooking. Tins
are a good idea - fruit, soups to eat cold, etc. Don't forget
a tin opener - if it stops working a coal chisel and hammer
may do the job.
Plenty of nibbles - biscuits, chocolate, etc. Don't be tempted
to eat it all at once though!
Drinks e.g. soya milk and fruit juices. Lots of mineral water
(tap water goes off after a few days). You should allow for
around 2 litres of fluid per person per day.
Piss bottles. You will be able to use empty water bottles,
but bear in mind you need at least 30% more bottles than drink
bottles as you take fluid in via food also. In addition cartons
cannot be pissed into after you have drunk their contents.
On the same subject, a funnel may be useful.
Carrier bags to shit in, and bog roll. Bury them, or if possible
leave them for collection in the morning! On a practical level,
it is very difficult to shit without pissing at the same time.
In a confined space such as a tunnel, this point is particularly
Something to do. Books, writing paper (and plenty of biros
in case some don't work), games, playing cards, etc. All depends
on what you like doing really.
Nails (a selection from 2" to 6") and a hammer - a definite
for defending doors. Extra wood, and maybe a saw, could also
come in useful. Be prepared to improvise e.g. cold chisels
become door stops when the last door is being breached!
Candles, plus lighters and matches. Make sure you have spare
sets of matches!
A radio. You'll get medium wave fine, but if you want FM
you'll have to run a wire to the surface. If possible, you
may want to run this through any concreting or through the
air pipes so that it stays there as long as possible.
Something metal and bar-like e.g. crowbar, cold chisel, etc,
just in case you have to dismantle shoring (for example) for
whatever reason. A few digging tools are worthwhile, and will
probably be down there anyway.
Sleeping bag and mat/carpet
Appendix C- Imperial/Metric conversion
Being English, I've generally used Imperial units of measurement
throughout, so these conversions may be helpful.
1" (1 inch) = 25mm
l'(l foot) = 12" = 300mm