Mystery deepens as Rumbolds Hill at Midhurst sinks again

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CALLS have been made for a full investigation as the mystery of Midhurst’s disappearing road deepens.

CALLS have been made for a full investigation as the mystery of Midhurst’s disappearing road deepens.

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Town councillors believe there is something ‘dangerously wrong’ with the Rumbolds Hill section of the A272 which carries heavy traffic through the centre of the town.

Once again a giant pothole has emerged, this time with several areas of cracked tarmac where the road is sinking again.

There is talk of ancient secret passages, long-forgotten cellars or bricked-up bank vaults.

It is a reoccurring problem over the last seven years. Now they are beginning to wonder what lurks beneath the surface, devouring great mounds of ballast and tarmac.

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Chairman John Etherington said: “There is something very wrong with that stretch of road,”.

Fellow councillor Steve Morley added: “It is only about two years since it was resurfaced yet again. Something is dangerously wrong. It’s an important double A road and if it had to be closed it would be a nightmare.”

Mark Purves said he believed it was time for a ‘proper investigation’.

Town councillors claim the deterioration is exacerbated by heavy quarry lorries travelling to West Lavington.

The stretch of road subsided dramatically on four occasions in 2009 alone.

In July 2009 a giant hole appeared for the third time that year straddling both carriageways and some six tons of tarmac were poured in which disappeared into the massive depression.

“I understand there are tunnels underground which originally linked the town with St Anne’s Hill – maybe that’s where we have lost the tarmac,” said former councillor Tony Beck at the time. He thought it was also possible the bank vaults went under the road.

Others favoured a collapsing cellar roof theory.

Another theory was the subsidence had been caused by an underground stream.

Midhurst historian Bridget Howard said: “There is a Victorian legend there are tunnels from the Spread Eagle to St Anne’s Hill which I personally do not believe – there is no evidence of them at all.”

West Sussex County Council thought it could be caused by a sewer collapse.

But they never established the cause and in September 2009 the hole had to be filled again with another six square metres of tarmac.

In January 2013 WSCC pledged to carry out ‘urgent’ resurfacing work after the road was described as a ‘death trap’.

Patching was included in an A272 resurfacing programme over two nights of ‘urgent’ works at the end of January.

West Sussex County Council is still promising an investigation. A spokesman said this week: “We are aware of the potholing and localised failure of the carriageway surface on Rumbolds Hill. Our engineers are currently investigating the cause.”

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