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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Workmen discover secret chambers
Museum volunteer at tunnel entrance (pic courtesy of Leicestershire County Council)
The bolt hole was designed to hide from angry textile workers
A series of secret rooms and a tunnel have been discovered under a building in Loughborough.

The secret living quarters belonged to John Heathcote, a man who invited the fury of the Luddites after inventing a lace-making machine in the early 1800s.

Housing charity The Bridge is in the process of moving to its new headquarters on Leicester Road.

Emma Bull, from the charity, said workmen made the discovery while carrying out the renovations.

The rooms are tiny - they've been likened to dog kennels
Emma Bull

She said: "Basically they were looking at the floorboards and they discovered this hole underneath the floorboards which led to this brick-cased room and then further investigations discovered the tunnel."

She added: "The rooms are tiny - they've been likened to dog kennels."

Keeper of Charnwood Museum Susan Cooke added: "We don't know if (John Heathcote) did actually hide down there because he fled Loughborough and went to Devon."

The Luddite movement began in Britain in 1811 when many workers banded together against the industrial revolution - fearing for their jobs.

Activists smashed Heathcote's lacemaking machine in Loughborough in 1816.

An exhibition about Heathcote's connection with the Luddites is due to go on show at Charnwood Museum in April 2007.


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