Visit the Garden Tunnel
Ventnor Botanic Garden has many secrets, some dating back to the days of the Royal National Hospital that formerly stood on the site. Underground caverns, secret passageways and a tunnel through the cliff can be found by the visitor to the Garden.
A proposal to make a tunnel from the gardens down to the shore was mooted in the late 1800’s. The Royal National Hospital annual report for 1875 states that “There can be no doubt that if the patients were able to obtain free access to the shore it would be very conducive alike to their recovery and their enjoyment”. Money for the tunnel at that time was not forthcoming and although it was built later its function was by no means the rather romantic conception that has given rise to a good deal of speculation and comment; it was in fact used as a conduit for rubbish that was propelled through it and dumped in the sea. Steel tramlines are still visible in the floor. Exactly when the tunnel was built is unknown; possibly it was in relation to a new system of drainage and sewage disposal that was completed sometime in the 1880’s. The tunnel was closed both ends in 1940 by order.
The 350 foot long vaulted roofed tunnel exits through the cliff midway down and is inaccessible. DO NOT attempt to locate the exit, or try to enter unless with one of our guides, as the cliff is extremely dangerous.
Take a guided walk through the Garden Tunnel every day, meeting at the tunnel entrance at 2pm (FREE to Garden admission payers).