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Report - - Stalybridge New Tunnel - Stalybridge - July 2012 | Underground Sites |

Report - Stalybridge New Tunnel - Stalybridge - July 2012

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The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member


This is the first tunnel on the Micklehurst Loop as you leave Stalybridge railway station; the next notable tunnel is the 110 yard long Royal George Tunnel on the Greenfield/Mosley boundary which has been filled in, the railway then passes through the 315 yard long Butterhouse (Ryefield) Tunnel at Diggle; the Western end of this tunnel has been infilled. After this there’s the mighty Stanedge Tunnel. Along the Micklehurst Loop are a few more explores to be enjoyed, Heyrod Power Station, Millbrook Railway Siddings, Oak Mill and H W Shaws to name a few.

The 6 miles 70 chains Micklehurst Loop was the product of the LNWR's need to quadruple its Diggle-Stalybridge line which was squeezed onto an alignment on the west side of the Tame valley. The loop, built by contractors Taylor & Thompson for £178,000, took a more easterly path, opening in 1886 following a construction period of five years. Included were three tunnels and four substantial viaducts.

Driven under Cocker Hill, Stalybridge New Tunnel welcomed eastbound services onto the Micklehurst loop which effectively four-tracked the LNWR's main trans-Pennine route via Diggle, albeit involving alignments on opposite sides of the Tame Valley.

Whilst the tunnel was being constructed, services had to be cancelled in St George's Church, sitting almost above it - explosions shook the foundations, causing cracks to appear. Thanks to the sinking of a construction shaft, headings were driven from one intermediate point as well as both ends. This was later infilled, not retained for ventilation.

The tunnel is 315 yards long, straight and lined throughout in blue brick, the East end is partially blocked with a wall, the West end terminates at a short open section before the railway passes under the main road; the road tunnel has been backfilled preventing any further progress.

In August 1913, a Leeds-Llandudno express ploughed into the rear of a goods train which was making slow progress through the tunnel. The guard's van and several wagons were wrecked but the guard escaped death by jumping from his van onto the adjacent line. A breakdown gang was summoned to clear the debris.

Although the through line was severed in 1966, a spur through the tunnel remained open until 1976, serving a local power station.


At the Eastern end of the tunnel was the Tame Viaduct; this crossed three roads, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the River Tame. Known as Bridge No.3, the 330-yard curved structure was built from blue engineering brick and comprised 16 arches.
Closed to through trains on 30th November 1966, the section over the viaduct was retained to carry coal for a nearby power station, officially ending its operational life on 14th September 1976, although traffic had actually ceased in 1972.

1991 saw the structure demolished with the intention of using its alignment as a route for the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which was being restored. But in the event, the project received £32 million of lottery funding, allowing it to be put back on its original path through the centre of Stalybridge

My Visit

I first heard about this tunnel form Bungle666 a few years ago, I did a quick search but never located it, for some reason I thought it was more towards Ashton. Armed with a useful tool from Ojay I located the Eastern porthole and went looking for it in the torrential rain. After climbing up 50ft of vertical mud I found it to be partially blocked with a 10ft wall. Getting over was not an issue, but getting back over would have been so I went off to find the other end, no joy and pissed wet through I finally gave it up as a bad job, should have paid more attention to the map.

2 weeks later and I decided to have another look. I found the Western porthole no problem, but the access didn’t look too promising if possible at all, so it was back to the muddy slope and in the Eastern porthole. The tunnel was very straight, not too many features but was dry. I’m glad I didn’t pop over the wall on my first visit as I’d probably still be there now, a bit of cunning this time allowed me to escape without too many problems.

Image 1 – The Eastern porthole just about visible through the vegetation.


Image 2 – Looking West down the tunnel from on top of the wall.


Image 3 – View of the Eastern porthole and wall from inside the tunnel.


Image 4 – Within the tunnel, well you have to have a self portrait.


Image 5 – View back to the Eastern porthole with some nice efflorescence on the walls.


Image 6 – The main feature in the tunnel, bit of WD40 and it should be as good as new!


Image 7 – Well it had to be done!


Image 8 – The vegetated and overgrown Western Porthole, home to a long lost Amazon tribe.


Image 9 – Looking down on the infilled Western Porthole, it’s actually the short section of tunnel which runs under the main road that’s been filled.


Well that’s it, glad I have finally managed to track this one down. A good way to kill a couple of hours. I made the mistake of calling into the Staveleigh Clinic afterwards, I wouldn’t recommend anyone waste any of their time visiting here; it’s well and truly trashed!


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