Sunday, September 30, 2007

BALDRICK'S PLAN FOR UNDERGROUND PASSAGES

11:40 - 29 September 2007

Exeter's Underground Passages will be officially re-launched by actor and television presenter Tony Robinson and his Time Team.

Mr Robinson, perhaps best known for his role as Baldrick in the Blackadder series, will perform the official reopening of the unique historic passages next Friday.

The passages reopened to the public earlier this month after being closed since 2005 during the development of Princesshay.

Mr Robinson, who has a keen interest in history and archaeology and has presented Channel 4's popular Time Team series for 12 years, said that he was delighted to be invited to the city.

"Exeter has a rich history and these passages provide a fascinating insight into medieval life in the city," he said.

"The new interpretation centre makes the experience even more enjoyable for visitors of all ages and helps to bring history to life."

City councillor for economy and tourism Greg Sheldon said: "We are delighted to welcome Tony to our unique Underground Passages.

"We want to ensure that residents and visitors to Exeter are aware of the passages and it is vital that those working in tourism know how much the passages and our new interpretation centre have to offer.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for those in the industry to see the passages and explore the exciting new entrance and interpretation centre."

The centre, located in Paris Street, offers hands- on activities and displays, telling the story of the passages and medieval life in the city.

Visitors can also look at a timeline of the city, see artefacts found in the passages and during the Princesshay redevelopment and see a replica cross section of Exeter.

People in wheelchairs, scooters or those who prefer not to take a guided tour will be able to journey through a life-sized mock up of the passages or take a "magic carpet" virtual tour.

Exeter is the only city in the UK to have underground passages of this type.

The mysterious conduits were first built in the 14th century to bring a supply of fresh drinking water into the city, and guided tours have taken place since 1933.

By the early 20th century the vaults were almost forgotten, but in 1935 they achieved Ancient Scheduled Monument status and are now protected by law.

During the Second World War, the vaults became an air raid shelter that could house up to 300 people, protecting them from fire bombs which destroyed much of the city centre.

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