Our regular Tunnel Tours are currently postponed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to enquire about a private tour.
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 visitors to the Garden.
A proposal to dig a tunnel from the gardens down to the shore was mooted in the late 1800s. 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 into the sea. Steel tramlines are still visible on 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 1880s. The tunnel was closed at both ends in 1940.
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. Bolted gates are also in place for safety.
The Tropical House
The Tropical House is a theatrical display where the visitor enters through a derelict mineshaft that opens up into the rainforest heat. Plants are growing everywhere in the high humidity produced by running water.
Further in, a warm pool of water shows the Giant Waterlily in the summer months.
The Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia gigantea, produces its spectacular but foul-smelling flowers from vines clambering around the superstructure during the summer months and shy fish can be seen in the canal next to the boardwalk.