Underground rum smugglers are believed to have stealthily operated using a secret Guildford tunnel system. An article in The Western Mail (17 Nov 1949) reads:
“The smugglers used to paddle up the nearby river at night, disembarking at a spot; where the well was linked to the river. They would then take their illicit goods up the tunnel”
Over the years, many researchers, archaeologists, and residents have sought the location of the fabled smugglers tunnel in Guildford, Western Australia. None have come close to discovering its location or the secrets it may hold.
In September 2020, Trace Archaeology Pty Ltd in collaboration with the City of Swan undertook a historical archaeological investigation to look for the fabled Rose and Crown tunnel , rumoured to have extended from a bricked up entrance in the cellar of the Rose and Crown Hotel to the Swan River. Knowledge of the tunnel’s existence lives large in the minds of the local populace; with claims from local residents who claim to have played within the tunnel as children. However, its precise location is a mystery. To make sure the City of Swans project did not interfere with the legendary tunnel we were tasked with checking before the project was sanctioned.
Primary historical evidence of the presence of the Rose and Crown tunnel is absent. There are no primary historical documents showing the location of the tunnel or evidence of its existence but many old tales are based on truth. The City of Swan, conscious of the legend engaged Trace Archaeology to perform an archaeological ground penetrating radar assessment and subsequent excavation to determine the presence or absence of the Rose and Crown tunnel within the footprint of their proposed drainage infrastructure project in order to protect, document and preserve the heritage of Guildford for future generations.
First a ground penetrating radar assessment was undertaken adjacent to the Rose and Crown hotel. The GPR data collected did not indicate any form of structure in the subsurface. It was determined that an excavation to confirm our findings was the best course of action to conclusively prevent any damage to the potential heritage. The Trace Archaeology team opened a 20 m by 1 m archaeological excavation in the road outside of the Rose and Crown Hotel. This was to cover any potential trajectory the tunnel might take from the sealed Rose and Crown tunnel entrance to the Swan River across the line of the proposed works. A team of archaeologists uncovered what is believed to be the original road surface and beneath this, two deteriorated jarrah boards with hand-wrought iron nails dating between 1788-1850s but no smugglers tunnel.
Overall, the excavation was a success preventing any possibility of damage to the heritage of Guildford, however the mystery of the Rose and Crown tunnel goes on and its existence & location remain elusive.