Smugglers' tunnels under Portsmouth watering hole?

Secret chambers underneath the watering hole where Horatio Nelson spent his last day on land have been uncovered by roadworkers digging a hole in Portsmouth.

Council contractors revealed a series of hidden tunnels and rooms outside the site of the George Hotel in High Street, Old Portsmouth, where the famous admiral stayed before sailing for the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The hotel was destroyed by a Luftwaffe bombing raid in 1941. Conservation officers will visit the site today to try to unravel its secrets.

The discovery has sparked speculation, with theories including an escape route for naval officers and tunnels used to store smuggled rum. Local resident Sally Cronin told the Portsmouth News: ‘I’ve been here for 50 years. When we were children lots of the area was a bombsite and we were told there were tunnels all around.

‘We were told they were smugglers’ tunnels, where French sailors unloaded barrels of rum. In those days, every other building was a tavern. If so, they’d have been transporting it right under the Customs building in the dockyard.’

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