Home West London The workers once trapped in a London sewer and stranded for 6...

The workers once trapped in a London sewer and stranded for 6 hours in total darkness

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The ground under London is teeming with hidden tunnels, bunkers and passageways.

They can be great fun to explore if you can persuade the powers that be to grant you access, or if you’re an urban explorer.

But what if you ventured down into the ground and couldn’t get out? What if something went terribly wrong and you were stuck down in the darkness? Would anyone ever hear you or call the rescue services?

READ MORE: Passenger once got off Tube at abandoned station by accident and stranded ‘all night’

Such a terrifying experience happened to two Irish labourers in 1975 who were working on one of London’s decaying Victorian sewers

Manus Gallagher and Seamus Greene had descended into the tunnels in West London at 8am to begin work when the unthinkable happened.

The decaying sewer tunnel collapsed right on top of them.

They were both badly injured. Manus had fractured his pelvis and Seamus had internal injuries.

The desperate injured men had no idea how long it might be before anyone came for them in the darkness.

As the Harrow Observer reported at the time, Mr Gallagher said: “We were looking death in the face all the time. We thought after the first hour that we would never get out. We didn’t talk about a lot. All we could think about was ‘get us out of here, get the weight off us’.”

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Luckily for the men, their friend from back home in Donegal who was also working in London, Con Gallagher (no relation to Manus), and fellow workers dug all day to try to reach the men and ambulance crews, police and firemen rushed to the scene.

Manus’ wife, Bridie, was at work when the police knocked on her door and took her to the scene. She was terrified for her husband.

“I kept praying and hoping that he would come up alive,” she said, “I was relieved when he finally came up. Everybody was great all through.”

Manus said afterwards: “When we got out I just kept thinking how lucky we were the both of us.”

He added, looking at his wife: “I didn’t feel a lot. I just kept asking for her.”

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Manus and Bridie at Northwick Park Hospital (Harrow Observer)

Soon sitting up in bed in hospital at Northwick Park in Harrow, Manus lost no time in asking for a pint.

“A good big pint of beer,” he told the Observer. But first, he paid tribute to the “marvellous people who had helped in the rescue”.

Manus thought it was almost inevitable that he would go back “down the tunnels”.

He said: “I suppose I will if there is no bad fracture and I am on my feet again.”

But Bridie said it was the last thing that she wanted him to do.

Manus could throw no light on how the tunnel collapse occurred.

“I would not know how,” he said. “It happened. We were just excavating out the muck. It just fell in on us.

“We heard a crack but that came at the same time. I don’t know what it was, perhaps loose ground or something.

“I want to thank everybody. the whole lot. Everyone around St Ann’s Road and especially all my workmates. You could not name one person in particular who was there. They were all marvellous.”

So next time you go exploring down in the tunnels under London, do take care, and remember there are tonnes of earth right on top of you!

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/nostalgia/workers-once-trapped-london-sewer-21575935