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Report - Redditch Railway Tunnel - April 2012

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by reddiurbex, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. reddiurbex

    reddiurbex 28DL Member
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    Redditch Rail Tunnel History...

    In 1858 work started on the branch line that was to run from Barnt Green via Alvechurch to Redditch. The Redditch Railway Company (later to be taken over by the Midland Railway) constructed the first four and a half miles of track linking Redditch to the main station at Barnt Green. On the 19th of September 1859, passenger services started running to Redditch, with freight services starting on the 1st of October.

    The original line was (and still is to this day) a single track although the original bridges were capable of accommodating double track width. By the 1860's work began south of Redditch to connect the town with Alcester, Evesham and Ashchurch on the main Birmingham to Bristol line. In fact, the Barnt Green to Ashchurch line became known as the "Gloucester Loop" line.

    The project to link Redditch to Ashchurch in the south was not officially completed until the 4th of May 1868. The delay was largely caused by the building of the tunnel underneath Mount Pleasant in Redditch. The tunnel alone took 18 months to complete, which at the time was a long time for the construction of a single track tunnel running for just 330 yards. The tunnel had to be over-engineered to some degree, owing to problems encountered with the sub-soil when the tunnelling work started.

    Plans were reviewed at the time to run the track around the Mount Pleasant peak, but this would have meant re-locating the station away from the town centre. Commercial pressures meant that the building of the tunnel was going to be the only practical solution. To keep the costs down it was decided to keep the tunnel and the line south of Redditch as a single line track.

    By 1963 the line south of Redditch was closed as a result of the "Beeching Axe" - as such services where often running at a loss, and the car was becoming increasingly popular. The tunnel had seen some 95 years service, but by 1965 the track was finally lifted and nature & building developments were allowed to take over.

    Little do people realise that the Beeching Axe was originally going to cut the line off at Barnt Green, meaning Redditch would have no rail service at all. However as Redditch was designated a New Town in 1964, the freight terminal was going to prove to be invaluable as a means to transport the enormous amounts of building material and stone that the development of Redditch would require - at that time Redditch was just "the town on the hill" surrounded by farmland.


    Here is a picture of the North Portal still in use taken in July 1955 (http://www.photobydjnorton.com/Stations/Redditch.html)

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    All the images below were taken in January 2012 with a second visit made in April 2012. Considering the tunnel itself is getting on for 146 years old, it's in pretty good shape. Camera : Fuji Finepix S5700. Lighting : LED Lenser P7 (x2), LED Lenser X21, Orsram Crosser Spotlight, Nightsearcher HT191 (x2)


    South Portal

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    Main Tunnel

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    North Portal (fitted in 1976 when the Midland Red Bus Park was built on top of the North Portal cutting - I also have some detailed pdf plans from 1975/76 of the construction of this end! Let me know if you would like to see these).

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    The other side of the inspection cover can be found in the First Midland Red bus depot (have to get there very early in the morning to see this)!

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    Rest of the images can be viewed here : http://s1278.beta.photobucket.com/user/reddiurbex/library/Redditch Tunnel

    Hope this 1st report was interesting. More to follow soon.

    ReddiUrbex
     
    #1 reddiurbex, Dec 27, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012

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