Victoria Tunnel Tour | What to Expect

 This post is based on a visit in March 2022. Please check the Victoria Tunnel website for up-to-date information when booking. 

Apologies for the quality of the photos in this post. I wasn't really concentrating on getting the best snaps as I was listening to the tour guides and didn't want to appear rude with my phone constantly out (plus wanted to concentrate) and obviously the lighting isn't the best down there. 

Victoria Tunnel Tour | What to Expect

I have wanted to take a Victoria Tunnel Tour for ages. I actually booked for Mother's Day 2020 but cancelled due to the pandemic. I am so pleased I was able to rebook and finally experience a tour for my friend Chloe's birthday in March 2022. It was brilliant and I would highly recommend. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for frequently asked questions. 

There are various tours you can book onto and the tunnel runs several events across the year including popular Father Christmas and Halloween experiences. More general events include wine tasting and live music in the tunnel, ghost tours and the standard 1 hour 15 minute or 2 hour tours.

We did try and book the 2 hour tour but as there are 4 of us, we couldn't get a space on that one for a while so settled for the 1 hour 15 minute tour instead which I actually thought was a very good length and I'm pleased we went with that one in the end. 

Tunnel tours do tend to get booked up in advance (check here for availability and what's on). I would also highly recommend signing up to the Ouseburn Trust newsletter to keep up to date with new tour info and be the first to hear about their special events. 

The Victoria Tunnel Tour is located in the Ouseburn area of Newcastle. There are two entrances depending on which tour you book, this will be sent out to you in an email prior to your tour. The main entrance is directly opposite Seven Stories on Lime Street and the other entrance is between Hotel Du Vin and Crossfit on Ouse Street. Both entrances are well signposted and very easy to find. 

Our 1 hr 15 minute tour left from the entrance on Ouse Street (see map below). 

You can't miss the red door. Visitors are asked to meet at their meeting point 10 minutes prior to the tour start time. This gives you time to pop your hard hat on and get to grips with yout torch (both provided). There are information boards outside the entrance which were interesting to read before the tour and gave me a bit of background info. 

Victoria Tunnel Tour | What to Expect - entrance

A quick history of the tunnel - it was built between 1839 and 1842 to transport coal from Spital Tongues Colliery to the River Tyne (ready for onward transportation). The tunnel is 2.4 miles in length and drops 68 metres from entrance to exit. It remains largely in tact but only a small portion (the orange section above) is currently open to the public. 

The tunnel successfully transported coal and reduced costs by over 80% but was sadly only in operation for 18 year. However in 1939 it was repurposed as an air raid shelter and sheltered 9000 Newcastle residents during the war. 

The tour is nice and varied and shares a good overview of the tunnel's history. You will hear stories from it's waggonway days and learn how coal was transported, re-live life in the tunnel when it was an air raid shelter, learn more about it's construction and logistics plus plenty of anecdotes and maybe the odd ghost story or two. 

On arrival, your name is ticked from a list and you are provided with a hard hat and torch to use for the duration of the tour. 

The tour starts promptly on time and due to their strict schedule, latecomers cannot join the tour once it has started. It begins with an overview of how the tunnel has been used before you head inside. 

The tours are run by fantastic volunteers (thanks Trevor and Phil for our tour who were brill) with one volunteer taking you through the first part of the tour and the second the latter. I imagine each tour is slightly different but I won't tell you exactly what happens as I don't want to ruin it for you. 

There were 10 people in our group (which is the maximum number) and the tour is fairly immersive with different sound effects and various lighting used along the way, there are props and a chance for audience participation and ask questions too. It's really interesting but the best part is definitely the guides who are full of knowledge and really bring the history of the tunnel to life. 

There isn't too much walking and you only see a small part of the tunnel but you do definitely feel underground. The basic set up is 'walk and talk'. You walk along some of the tunnel and stop to hear a story / have something pointed out then continue walking along again to the next point of interest. 

Below are a few photos from a small section of the tunnel which is where something above the tunnel has led to these unique changes. 

Another part of the tunnel is completely different to the rest. You will find out why......

The tunnel is 13 degrees year round and there will be times when you are asked to turn your torches off and be immersed in complete darkness which links to some of the tales of the tunnel which will be shared. It's scary how dark it is and your eyes won't adjust to it either. 

Victoria Tunnel Tour | What to Expect - inside the tunnel

I don't want to repeat all of the stories we heard on the tour but like I say, they are so interesting and a real mix. You'll hear about Byker lads riding the waggonway, see signs of how the tunnel was used as an air raid shelter and hear about some of the local heroes associated with the tunnel and the area alongside tales of WWII in Newcastle. 

I love that there's a real mix from different periods in the tunnel's life and it's not all just about the war or all about the coal mining days. I personally I found it all super interesting and paced extrememly well. If you are interested in local history and stories about real people from the past, you will love it. 

I would recommend the tour as an alternative date day, something to do as an organised group, something to book with friends or something to do with older tweens and teens. It's very easy to make a day of it and combine with other activities or somewhere in the Ouseburn area (I will share some recommendations at the bottom of this post). 

Onto the logistics now. I didn't find the tunnel to be too narrow - it is 1.9m wide. Everyone seemed to walk in single file with one guide at the front and one guide at the back. There is a slight incline but I didn't notice this at all, it feels mostly flat. There isn't too much walking involved and it should be manageable for most. 

The tunnel is 7 ft 5 inches (2.26m) tall at it's highest point. I am 5 ft 8 and didn't hit my head once. If you walk in the centre of the tunnel, most people should be ok (although the height of your hard hat should be taken into consideration too). There are some sections where the tunnel height is slightly reduced (for example when you walk around the blast walls or the new section), but again, this is only a teeny section and not really an issue. 

There is one section in the middle of the tour where you sit on seats and get to see replica WWII benches and beds and at the end you'll be treated to a ghost story which is excellent (and did actually scare me too). 

You walk along the tunnel away from the Tyne for the first part of the tour and then back again for the second re-tracing your steps and you enter and exit from the same door. 

The Victoria Tunnel is rated as the #1 thing to do in Newcastle on Tripadvisor and I can see why. It definitely comes highly recommended from us and if you've been thinking of taking the tour but weren't sure, I'd say go for it. I imagine you'll leave thinking it was well worth a ticket and a fab way to spend a few hours of your time. 

Gift vouchers are available and would make a lovely alternative gift - browse gift vouchers here

Where to Visit Nearby 

At the end of the tour, you are given a little leaflet with local businesses where you can use your tour ticket for a discount which is a fab idea. Lovely to see lots of Ouseburn businesses working together. 

Victoria Tunnel Tour | What to Expect - local discounts

There is loads to do in the area and I can personally recommend Seven Stories which is now free to visit, Gingerinos for fantastic pizza at a bargain price, ice cream from Di Meos and a trip to Ouseburn Farm is free too. 

Read 10 Things to Do in Ouseburn here. 

It's also super easy to walk along the Newcastle Quayside from the Victoria Tunnel and check out the restaurants and attractions there. 

I had such a great time on the tour and I'm looking forward to returning with Steve and the kids at some point. 

Questions about the Victoria Tunnel 

Do I need to book? 

Definitely, they usually sell out in advance. 

How much does a tour cost? 

It depends on the tour you take, our 75 minute tour was £10 per adult and £5 per child (aged 7-15)

Where is the Victoria Tunnel? 

You will find the entrance in Ouseburn either opposite Seven Stories on Lime Street or behind Hotel du Vin on Ouse Street. Both entrances are only a 2 minute walk from each other. 

How tall is it? Will I need to crouch? 

The tunnel is 7 ft 5 inches at it's tallest point. Most people shouldn't need to crouch but you may need to duck a little as you turn around bends and will need to take into consideration the height of your hard hat too. I am 5 ft 8 and didn't need to crouch. 

What age is the tour recommended for? 

The standard tours are suitable for ages 7+ and children must be accompanied. Personally, unless your children are super into local history / WWII, I would probably wait until they are aged 9+ as there can be a lot of listening and it may be a little scary for them.

I didn't take my three but will be re-booking a different tour as I know they will love it. It's definitely a good idea for a day out with tweens and teens if you are looking for something a little different.

Some special events (eg Father Christmas and Halloween) have different age requirements. 

Is there wheelchair access? 

The visitor centre is accessible however the tunnel itself is not (due to the nature of the building). You can find out more about accessibility and alternative ways to experience the tunnel (including a virtual tour) here. 

Is the tour scary? 

If you are claustrophobic, it probably isn't for you as you do feel a certain degree of being trapped and you can't see and entry or exit point throughout - it's just more tunnel. There are also times when you will be immersed in complete darkness, will hear sound effects that may be scary and there is a ghost story too (which as an adult did give me the shivers). 

If you do think you are likely to panic, I wouldn't book the tour and would try the virtual tour instead which I have heard is excellent. However if you do need to leave, one of the guides can direct you back to the entrance. 

I imagine the guides are very good at tailoring the tour to specific groups and if there are kids, they probably involve them more and if you are apprehensive, let them know at the start at they can reassure when needed. Some people have recommended staying at the back is the easiest if you are apprehensive. 

My own kids don't get scared at much and I know they would have been find from age 8 or 9+ however you know your own children and if they are scared of the dark or don't like ghost stories etc...., I would wait until they are a little older. 

What should I wear?

Don't wear white as there is rust and rusty puddles in one section of the tunnel and it can stain if you brush up against it or plodge though accidentally. I would just recommend old trainers, jeans/joggers and a sweatshirt or t shirt and coat. It is 13C in there and did feel a little chilly but I didn't have my coat on and I was fine. Don't wear your Sunday best. 

Where can I park nearby? 

There is street parking on Lime Street but it's limited. Ouseburn South (or Spillers as it is also known) next to the Cycle Hub is the closest car park - use postcode NE6 1BY. Personally, I always use Ouseburn Central Car Park on Foundry Lane (postcode NE6 1LH) which is just behind Seven Stories and the Cluny.  You can find out more about parking here. 

How to access via public transport  

Yes there are bus links and the nearest Metro is Manors (10-15 minute walk). Ouseburn is easy to walk to from Newcastle Quayside. Find out more about public transport here. 

How long is the tour? 

Our tour was 75 minutes long, there are also 2 hour tours available and special events will have different timings. 

Where can I find out about special events? 

You can find out about special events here. I also recommend signing up to the Ouseburn Trust mailing list to be the first to hear of new events (you can do this on the page linked above). 

Upcoming events include: 
  • Sounds of the Underground - music in the tunnel 
  • Tipple in the Tunnel - wine tasting in the tunnel with Hotel du Vin 
  • Photography Tunnel Tours 

Can I book a private tour? 

Yes, your group/organisation/school etc.... can book private tours and prices are super reasonable. Find out more about private and group tours here. 

Anything else I should know? 

Make sure you read the pre-tour information sent out as an email before your tour to ensure you meet at the correct entrance and are aware of anything else they need you to know. On the day of our visit, face coverings were compulsary inside and they had some at the entrance for those who had forgotten theres. Hand torches are sanitised between guests. 


1 comment

  1. The tunnel looks impressive. But is it safe to take a tour? And is there are any safety measures just in case if any mishap struck?


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