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Report - - Severn Bridge Tunnel, Purton - June 2012 | Underground Sites |

Report - Severn Bridge Tunnel, Purton - June 2012

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Built by the Severn Bridge Railway Company between 1875-78, this 506-yard tunnel formed part of the western approach route to a mammoth cast iron rail bridge of 4,162 feet which spanned the river, joining the village of Purton on the west bank to Sharpness on the east.

One man died during the tunnel's construction which, although built for two tracks, only ever accommodated one. Both masonry side walls incorporate several refuges whilst the brick roof has been supported with rail and timber in a couple of places. From the south, the line entered on a gentle curve of 120 chains radius, climbing towards the north end on a gradient of 1:132 before levelling out about 60 yards from the entrance.

The line was cut by the partial collapse of the Severn Rail Bridge in October 1960 after being struck by two barges in thick fog. Two rail tours used the line through the tunnel to reach Severn Bridge Station in April 1964. The track was finally lifted in 1968-69.


Visited with wonkycows.

1. Southern portal

2. Date stone

3. Looking north

4. Bracing

5. Refuge

6. Halfway in

7. Approaching northern portal

8. Northern portal

And there the report should end. But there is the photo below. A photo of something that initially frightened seven shades of shite out of me at any rate. As we were walking through (north to south), we were just over halfway through when we heard an almighty racket behind us. Looking around I thought that we had morphed back to October 1960 and the original Severn bridge had been rebuilt because what appeared to be some sort of train was hurtling towards us.

Of course it wasn't a train but a 4x4 pulling a huge trailer that was just about to breach the northern portal. Slowly, noisily but surely it came nearer and passed us, the farmer giving us a cheery wave. Farmers - frightening the shite out of townies since time began. Anyway, photo below is of said machine approaching us !