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    05 May, 2020
    Posted by justelectric
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    From Edwardian tiles to a 120-year-old tunnel: how lockdown DIY has led to surprising discoveries | Life and style


    Name: DIY discoveries.

    Age: Mostly quite new. Though some of the discoveries themselves are quite old. Like over a century.

    Intriguing. For example? The secret 120-year-old tunnel under a house in Plymouth, recently discovered by Jack Brown.

    Who was doing a bit of DIY? Correct, in the Georgian property he had recently moved into. He noticed the texture of one wall was different, made a hole, stuck his hand in, then took a look and saw …

    Wonderful things? Not quite on a par with discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb, but he did find a big space, five metres deep, containing old paint tins, bottles, and the remains of a newspaper. The paper was dated 1964. After giving the bottles a wipe down, Jack found them to be etched with details common to the early 1900s.

    Exciting. And is there a lot of DIY going on at the moment? Nail. On. Head. In the week before lockdown, Kingfisher, the company that owns both B&Q and Screwfix, saw sales up 38% on the same time last year. The nation knuckled down to finally putting a new washer on that dripping tap or a coat of varnish on the wooden worktop.

    Inspiring. We shall fight under the kitchen sink, we shall fight with sandpaper … And hundreds of do-it-yourself enthusiasts queued for hours after B&Q and Homebase reopened last weekend.

    Don’t just do it, B&Q for it. There have also been more DIY injuries during this time, with the Oxford Eye Hospital seeing an increase in eye injuries and people needing operations.

    Wounded heroes. Any more important discoveries? Yes, as it happens. In a moment of shutdown recklessness in Scotland, art historian and Ethiopian art expert Kate Cowcher took a knife to the lino in her bathroom floor and uncovered some rather lovely Edwardian tiles. Similarly, in the US, the Mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, tweeted about ripping up 1960s vinyl at city hall during lockdown and finding the splendid original, from around a century ago.

    Back in Plymouth, what is Jack Brown going to do with his new tunnel? He’s going to clear it out and maybe use it as an office, he told the Plymouth Herald. “Or a workspace for my sister.”

    Lucky lady. Yeah, not much of a view down there, sis, but there’s loads of historical interest.

    Do say: “Let’s use this time productively, get a few things done around the house and hopefully make some interesting discoveries, eh?”

    Don’t say: “Is that it? Maybe don’t bother telling the British Museum.”


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