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History Mysteries: The secrets of the smugglers' tunnels

Updated Wednesday, 18th January 2006

The History Mysteries sleuths investigate a smugglers' tale of caves and tunnels in a Cornish village.

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Jonathan by caves

Colin Oakden’s pub in Porthleven is the centre of the local smuggling myths. He has no hard evidence and wants to know if he is falsely advertising his pub as a Smuggling Inn; his business and reputation are at stake.

Jonathan starts by exploring the pub’s cellar and Miranda meets with a local historian, Victor Strike. Nick searches criminal records in the National Archives. He and his assistant Laura find evidence that smuggling was rife in Porthleven, but lack a link with the Ship Inn. Jonathan proves there are no tunnels under the pub.

Miranda’s chat with Victor reveals a legend of holes in the cliffs that lead to the local manor, Methleigh. Nick’s research shows that the people who lived at the manor owned the Ship Inn. Miranda and Jonathan set off to explore the current Methleigh Manor. Despite searching above and below ground they don’t find any tunnels.

Next stop the cliffs; Jonathan hires a boat and Miranda stays on land looking for an entrance. Just as they are giving up hope, Jonathan spots two square openings in the cliff that line up with Methleigh manor.

Jonathan and Miranda head back to the cliffs in the morning and Jonathan gets up close and personal with the caves. His research proves they are natural – no smuggling tunnels. Goods could have been stored there but where will remain a mystery.

Finally, Nick finds the original customs book that provides much needed archive. He believes the evidence is piled up against the old landlord of the Ship Inn.

But how will Colin react to our booty of information?





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