"I heard on the radio this morning about the maze of secret tunnels that Winston Churchill had built beneath the Clifffs of Dover during 1940. While this is ground-breaking news, the uncanny thing is that I wrote about such tunnels in my 1990s' book about the Second World War, called 'Butterworth's Brigade.' While I surmised the construction of such secret tunnels by Winston Churchill in my novel of fiction, they in fact turned out to be nearer the truth than the fiction I wrote.
This made me think of other strange constructions which had taken place around England which held their own secrets, but on this occasion, where what had always been thought to be true, wasn't in fact true. I refer to the M62 motorway that runs through the heartland of West Yorkshire.
Imagine the skill and sweat that went into the construction of the M62 motorway through sheer rock to form one of the country's nicest motorways which stretches 107 miles across the Northern England Pennines, connecting Liverpool in the west to Hull in the east via Manchester and Leeds. The motorway, which was first proposed in the 1930s, and conceived as two separate routes, was opened in stages between 1971 and 1976.
Little did the planners at the time envisage the will of the 'little man' to withstand the might of big Government who sought to force change to his way of life, just as Hitler had done in the late 1930s. Along the proposed route of the new motorway, all farm owners and other land owners readliy sold their assets; all that is with the exception of one stubborn Yorkshire farmer who managed 'Stotts Hall Farm', an 18th century homestead that had graced this glorious wild landscape since 1737. This farm and the resistance of its owner to hold out, would daily remind thousands of motorists who passed it on their trans-Pennine travels that an English man's home is his castle and will always remain so. It also stood proudly as a banner, symbolising the of the power of the small individual to resist big Government change by refusing to be driven from their home. Or so I had always been led to believe since it was first built until I recently unearthed a clipping from an old 'Look North' website which recorded an interview with the owner of the farm, Paul Thorpe!
It would seem that the reason the farm was allowed to remain functioning as a going concern and avoid the bulldozer when so many others in the way were consigned to history was more to do with 'the resistance of the surrounding land' and not that of the lowly farmer fighting the forces of powerful Government. In Paul's own words, 'They couldn't build the eastbound carriageway as high as the westbound carriageway. They just kept getting landslips and one thing and another. So they decided to part the motorway and managed to save the building. That's the only reason it's still here.'
Often I find the truth to be less of a story than the myth, don't you? I now wish I'd never discovered this old footage which unearthed these facts, as I much preferred the romantic story I'd grown up with about the lowly farmer fighting the might of Government and winning out! I also wish that Churchill's secret tunnels under the Nation's chalk cliffs of Dover had remained an official secret and hadn't ruined the plot of one of my most popular books for teenagers and adults!
I wonder how many more myths my mind has accepted as facts over the years and how many facts I've accepted that turned out to be myths? Also, were the stories my mother told me since I was knee-high self evident truths or the myths of Irish fokelore, peg-selling gyspies and old wive's tales?" William Forde: July 20th, 2015.