Whilst going through back issues of The Times online, I discovered that in between:

  • Writing 100s of books – including historical novels, science fiction, plays, poetry and considerable non-fiction,
  • Becoming a medical practitioner,
  • Being one of Britain’s first motorists (and competing in a European touring competition in 1911),
  • Playing for J.M. Barrie’s cricket team,
  • Being the goalkeeper for the Portsmouth Association Football Club,
  • Getting (two) wrongly-imprisoned men’s convictions overturned,
  • Lecturing on Spiritualism,
  • Running for parliament (twice),
  • Introducing skiing to Switzerland,
  • And believing in fairies.

Conan Doyle was also an early campaigner for the Channel Tunnel.

Though ideas of a tunnel connecting mainland Britain and France were not new even then – they had been bandied about since 1802 – with the possibility of a European war looming, Conan Doyle could see that having the tunnel in place would be a key strategic advantage.

In a letter to The Times' Editor, dated March 10th 1913, Conan Doyle states:

“Should we ever be forced to send troops to the Continent, it (the tunnel) provides a safe line of communications, besides ensuring an unopposed transit.”

Evidently mindful of the 'European situation', Conan Doyle dedicates exactly half of his 6-point proposal to the tunnel's utilisation in war. He continues:

“(The introduction of a Channel Tunnel…) enables food to be introduced into the country in war time, and would help us to hold out, even after a naval defeat.”

Though nothing came of Conan Doyle’s campaign during his own lifetime, it seems he may well have caught the ear of people in authority.

The Wikipedia article* on the origins of the Channel Tunnel, under the title ‘Proposals and attempts’, states that:

“In 1919, during the Paris Peace Conference, the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, repeatedly brought up the idea of a Channel tunnel as a way of reassuring France about British willingness to defend against another German attack. The French did not take the idea seriously and nothing came of Lloyd George's proposal.”

*Conan Doyle is not mentioned in the article.

Arthur Conan Doyle and the case for the Channel Tunnel

march 18, 2016

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