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Report - Preston Brook Tunnel - July 2013 -

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by georgie, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. georgie

    georgie He Never Even Got There
    Regular User

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    the history......

    preston brook tunnel marks the start of the trent mersey canal,which runs for 9.5 miles through cheshire staffordshire and derbyshire to join the river trent at derwent mouth near shardlow.

    the preston brook tunnel was completed in 1775,two years before the opening of the canal in 1777.

    1239 yards (1133 metres) in length, is only wide enough for a narrowboat, and is not quite straight. There is no towpath, so horses were led across the hill to the other end.

    The canal was linked with the Trent & Mersey Canal in 1772 and at a point just 11 yards inside the north end of the Preston Brook tunnel the spot is marked today by a milepost on the path over the tunnel, which was used to walk the horses that pulled the boats the three-quarters of a mile to the other end near Dutton Locks. In January 1776 the final mile of the canal through the Norton Priory estate was cut and the canal opened for through traffic.

    For almost one hundred years all boats were horse drawn and were “legged†through the tunnel, however in 1865 steam tugs were introduced, but the tunnel had no air vents, resulting in a number of boatmen being overcome by fumes and dying. Very soon ventilation shafts were sunk. A section of the Preston Brook tunnel collapsed in November 1981, and the tunnel was closed for repair until April 1984.

    North bound boats enter the tunnel on the hour until ten minutes past. South bound boats enter the tunnel at half past the hour, until forty minutes past. It takes about twenty minutes to take a narrowboat through the tunnel


    the explore.........


    had this one planned for a long long time but lots of things put me off doing it.....the main reason being that this tunnel is used 24hrs a day and i didnt fancy meeting a boat inside ,also the weather has been crap so when a recent heatwave hit it seemed rude not to try this

    me and the kwan have been chatting lately about doing this tunnel and after he had purchased a dingy so we decided to meet up near the tunnel and talk about a plan of action.......however our plan resulted in sitting in the pub over a few pints talking about the dangers of doing this,i knew of a massive chamber inside nicknamed the "cathedral" and that was built when the tunnel collapsed in 1981,it acts as an air shaft and also im assuming for emergency services to access the tunnel via a gantry,this was the only place also where canal boats could pass if they met in the middle of the tunnel.

    and with it saying it takes canal barge boats 20mins to do the tunnel,rowing would prob take a lot lot longer than that,so this wasnt something to be taken lightly.

    anyway a return visit was planned and a mate of mine joined us after he had recently purchased a dingy and showed an interest in coming,so we met up at the preston brook end of the tunnel and inflated our crafts.

    not long after we was all in the water messing around in the canal trying to get used to the boats we had purchased......none of us have had any dingy rowing experience before so this was to be a quick learning process,and after a while when we felt confident and assumed "no-one uses canal tunnels at night" we decided it was the right time to enter the tunnel...............

    explored with the kwan (good to meet you mate) and my mate lee....it all went to plan until near the end in when we all thought a boat was coming in from the trent mersey end and made our arses twitch.......but it was just a train thundering past outside near to the portal..........phew


    firstly heres a pic of the preston brook end,im unsure of the date but if you look to the bottom left you can just make out some sort of jetty......
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    and today it looks like this....notice some of the jetty still remains
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    a plaque showing when the tunnel was reopened after the collapse
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    in we go.....with the kwan leading the way
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    as mentioned in the history......The canal was linked with the Trent & Mersey Canal in 1772 and at a point just 11 yards inside the north end of the Preston Brook tunnel the spot is marked today by a milepost on the path over the tunnel,this is where the Kwan is below in the previous picture
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    the first of 4 small air shafts (excluding the cathedral) didn't take long to reach
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    this is what they look like above ground
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    the tunnel runs up tunnel end north then seems to dogleg just before the cathedral chamber
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    right under here
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    back underground we was making steady progress stopping along the way to take pics....
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    after a short while lee took the lead while me and the kwan was taking pics....he later shouted down "i think ive found the cathedral".....to which we rowed up like mad to catch a glimpse of it.
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    the chamber was massive and very deep....the gantry can be seen up the top
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    above ground it looks like this....the pub in the background is called the tunnel top....no prizes for guessing why
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    "the cathedral was completed in 1984,3 years after the tunnel had collapsed in November 1981,leaving a massive crater in the ground,it was nicknamed the cathedral due to its cathedral like structure"

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    imagine this Liverpool cathedral was underground,that gives you an idea of its build
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    following on from that i seen a strange pair of painted feet on the wall im assuming due to boats being legged in the old days it was painted on for history sake,or just for laughs?
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    the tunnel was marked so you always knew how far you had come and how far you had to go
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    after the cathedral it was a push towards the end under an un-named private road,apparently owned by the british waterways...this was to take us to the end and into the trent-mersey canal and signal the end of our three-quarters of a mile row.....another air shaft can be seen to the left

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    the end..........these 2 pics was taken in the day to get give you a better feel or look at what it would be like if a boat was to come in when we was inside...the kwan reckoned boats would be able to pass without incident.....however i wasn't so sure

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    the preston brook end didn't give much room either....
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    in conclusion it was a fantastic mooch with some laughs along the way,but very dangerous at the same time due to the fact the tunnel is in use 24/7 but a night time visit is the best and safest way around this....
     

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