Stricklandgate, in Kendal. A small country town best known for the eponymous Kendal Mint Cake - an essential survival ration for climbers, hillwalkers and surveyors who don't have time to stop for a break!

Forgotten passages

This view takes us back to the autumn of 1987, when stirrings were afoot to drag the town into the 20th. century, without spoiling the look too much.

Trade at a number of properties had declined and an urgent injection of new life was proposed for the town centre. A developer had purchased a number of properties backing onto the bus station area and an external survey with elevations was required. The basic job was straightforward with no complications, so why does it appear in 'Blast from the Past'? Well, it had a hidden secret.

At intervals along the street, alleyways passed from Stricklandgate into the back lane and the bus station/car park area. There was one to the right of the Seven Stars pub and one to the left of the café, both of which were surveyed as part of the job. However, something didn't seem right with the survey: everything tied up and plotted but a niggling doubt remained. After a little bit of exploration and knocking on rendering a slightly more robust investigation was required. Between the two buildings another passageway was found.

Over the years one opening and then another had fallen into disuse and been bricked up and rendered over. Eventually the last opening had gone and been lost to memory. The front room of the café had extended across the face of the old alleyway, with a false wall hiding the passage. The kitchen at the back being very cluttered, in the way of these things, did not appear to be narrower than the front customer area and so the existence of the alleyway became forgotten.

When the estate agent had measured the floor areas of the properties the passage, of course, didn't appear. Our survey provided a nice surprise and a welcome additional square footage to the development. Today the site retains much of its earlier character and is now a bustling part of the Kendal retail scene: visit Google streetview and you will see the passageway opened up and forming a pedestrian link through to the bus station.