You can trust Kazimier to unearth the magical in our midst. For it is they who have stumbled upon a portal, just yards away from the centre of the city, which punctures the city’s skin and burrows its way ever deeper: deeper, even, than Williamson could ever dream of.
As agents for the shadowy and possibly-not-ABTA-registered Atalonia Tours, they’re offering a tour unlike any the city has ever seen. They’re taking a select number of pioneering, G-force-braving travellers deep into the centre of the hollow earth.
And if you think a journey on the last train on the Northern Line’s a one way trip into the bowels of humanity – you’d better be prepared for something altogether more intrepid.
Scratch the surface of this city, and who knows what you’ll find. When Grosvenor’s steely forest of cranes began to tear up the turf of Chavasse Park they discovered, 50 feet below the grassy knoll, the city’s original dock walls: still standing, 300 years after the world’s original wet dock was silted up and sidelined for ever.
Peer down the horizontal porthole outside John Lewis and, though the condensation-splashed glass, you’ll catch a glimpse the city’s seamy underbelly. Ghostly walls rise up above the bedrock of the city where mighty clippers once dropped anchor. Tours take the curious below the shops and cafes to glimpse the dock’s exhumed corpse. To sample the city’s DNA. Liverpool – a city obsessed with gouging out the earth beneath our feet.
Many assumed this signalled some kind of subterranean turnpike – the deepest tour the city had to offer. But now we know differently.
At SevenStreets, we’ve investigated the bowels of the city in our Underground Liverpool series. We’ve been lower than most people in our pursuit of a story. But this temporary bore hole – opened as part of this year’s AND Festival – is a journey into uncharted waters, down deep below the Earth’s crust, where unimaginable pressure twists and contorts the laws of physics. An unmapped and unpredictable journey into psychogeography and scientific discovery.
We’re put through the paces. Don our protective gear. Leave our phones, our keys, our sat navs and sense of place at the surface. We drill, burrow, crawl and sail ever deeper into the abyss.
Our tour guide explains: “The tour can only take forty people at any time, because our special burrowing apparatus is, of necessity, quite constricted. There are unimaginable pressures and strange forces at play,” he says, adding that, due to the fragility of this underground paradise, the tour will operate for one week only before the borehole is permanently closed.
We scurry and squeeze through antechambers and perforated rock seams, dive into hidden hollows, secret, subterranean geological systems and echoing, otherwordly spaces on a journey as disorienting as it is dramatic.
En route, we see many wonderful things, hear ethereally haunting sounds, witness curiously alien species, and catch an elusive glimpse of paradise – deep, deep below Paradise Street.
Our journey ends, suitably enough, with a magical performance – a musical celebration of the underworld- oh, and of course, we exit through the gift shop. A souvenir to remind us all of one very, very special journey…
Atalonia, A Decent to Hollow Earth
26th – 30th of September, 7pm, 9.30pm
Celebration party on Sat 01 October.
For more information, and your chance to embark,
complete the online application process at Atalonia‘s website.
AND Festival, 29 Sep-2 October, various venues, Liverpool