THE UNMUTUAL PRISONER LOCATIONS GUIDE

MAYFIELD TUNNEL

Photos: Simon Wells. Location/Series Info: Rick Davy. Location report: Howard Foy.

IN THE PRISONER: In "Fall Out", Number Six and the escapees drive out of The Village through a tunnel, crashing through the gates at one end.

IN REALITY: This the now-demolished Mayfield Railway Tunnel (which came under the Beeching Axe in 1965), which was located under the A267 near Crowborough in East Sussex.

 

LOCATION REPORT: There were certainly some rum goings-on in The Prisoner. But - to the outsider, at least - there have been some even odder spectacles in Prisoner fandom. Veterans of London Walkabouts, of course, think there is nothing strange about tramping down corridors in underground car parks, staring meaningfully at another car park's entrance, or chasing after buses on Westminster Bridge. But I was witness to - nay, was a participant in - one of the oddest sights yet on Sunday, 14th June 1989.

The occasion was Martin Goldthorpe's Busabout, and the location was a rubbish-strewn old railway cutting in deepest Sussex. Our London Regional Transport double-decker (Leyland Titan no. T594 ) had just pulled into a lay-by off the A267, near Mayfield, and a little old man stared in astonishment - first, at the sight of a London bus in the middle of nowhere, and secondly, at the wierd spectacle of 54 people disappearing down a narrow path through brambles and old cookers. Where could they be going?

But as we fought our way through the undergrowth, our destination quickly became apparent - the Fall Out tunnel. For this reporter, at least, this was the achievement of a long-held ambition, to visit the actual site where No.6, No.2, No.48 and the Butler burst into the open air in such dramatic fashion as they finally escaped from the Village.

Initially, it was a bit of a disappointment to find that the tunnel didn't actually lead to a huge underground cavern somewhere beneath a fantasy village in North Wales. No - in reality, it is a fairly nondescript brick-lined tunnel on the old railway line from Eridge to Polegate, near Eastbourne. Built by the old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the line fell victim to the Beeching axe and closed in 1965 - only just in time for The Prisoner! It could even be argued that the structure is not really a tunnel at all. The old line merely burrows under the afore-mentioned A267 at an oblique angle, so it is really just a "stretched" bridge. That was another surprise - to find how short it is (about 50 yards). Approaching from the cutting, we actually had to traverse the tunnel to reach the side used in filming Fall Out. Fortunately, it is dry and relatively rubbish-free inside, as the trackbed appears to form a well-used local footpath these days.

As we all reached the open air again, the tour guide Dave Lally described the location and its precise role in The Prisoner, there was earnest discussion about the exact siting of the cameras and the difficulties of getting the Fall Out lorry into the tunnel in the first place. Since this visit, the tunnel has been demolished.

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