The Incredible Story of the ‘Mole Man’ Who Dug Tunnels Under His House

Hackney Mole Man's renovated home
(Image credit: Ed Reeve/Adjaye Associates)

We all have that neighbour who starts drilling at 7am on a Saturday morning, but for decades in the 1900s several Londoners had a neighbour who dug a series of interconnected tunnels under his house. Old Barry next door doesn’t seem as bad now, does he?

William Lyttle, nicknamed the ‘Mole Man’ of Hackney, spent 40 years digging tunnels under his house at 121 Mortimer Road, which he reportedly inherited in the 1960s. It’s not clear as to why he did it, but Lyttle was certainly committed: his tunnel network was as deep as 26 feet in areas, and stretched 65 feet in every direction from his house. He even had a full lever and pulley system in place to assist him.

Jack Woodfield
News Editor

Jack has worked in journalism for 11 years and was the News Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating from 2019 until the beginning of 2023. He strives to break the most relevant and beneficial stories for self builders, extenders and renovators, including the latest news on the construction materials shortage and hydrogen heating. In 2021 he appeared on BBC's The World at One to discuss the government's planning reforms. 

He enjoys testing new tools and gadgets, and having bought his first home in 2013, he has renovated every room and recently finished a garden renovation.