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Report - Tidenham Tunnel, Chepstow - Sep 2015

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Oort, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Tidenham Tunnel


    Length: 1,180 yards
    Height: 5.1 metres
    Width: 4.6
    Track: Yes​

    History
    Tidenham Tunnel was constructed to carry the Wye Valley Railway through a mass of limestone rock, allowing the railway to pass out of the Wye Valley before it enters a deep, tightly-curved gorge on the approaches to Chepstow. The line emerges into arable country and can head down to the mainline on a much straighter and cheaper route than would be possible if the tunnel had not been bored and the railway had followed the Wye down to Chepstow instead. One ventilation shaft was provided, slightly to the north of halfway through the tunnel. A distinct curve at each portal ensures that the bulk of the bore is in pitch blackness as it passes through the hill. Much of it is unlined, as the limestone was deemed to be solid enough to not require the additional expense of lining.

    Following completion of the tunnel it opened to traffic with the line in 1876. For such a long tunnel on a railway with such a traumatic history it had a comparatively quiet time. The WVR was saved the expense and inconvenience of constant rock falls which disrupted the operations of other railways and the dry bore did not cause trouble because trains stalled inside or it flooded. By its very nature as a steeply-graded single track tunnel it was a confined space and unpleasant to work through with a steam-powered train but it didn't pick up the sort of reputation which its slightly shorter neighbour, Haie Hill Tunnel (about 30 miles further up the Severn) managed to obtain.

    British Railways were left with the tunnel after nationalisation. The line cost a great deal to maintain and BR was keen to lose it in order to save money. The railway closed to passengers in 1959 but Tidenham Tunnel still had a fairly secure future with limestone traffic from Tintern Quarry. This could probably have gone on forever if it were not for the deteriorating state of the tunnel. The last serious attempt at maintaining it was probably carried out prior to 1959 (it is entirely possible that an overhaul of the tunnel was due when the line closed). Closing it to passengers had allowed less money to be spent on it; in December 1981 the maintenance requirement was reduced to virtually nothing by taking the line out of use. By this stage it was the 13th-longest active tunnel on the former Great Western network; this status now passed to Ardley on the line between Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and London.

    The empty, two-thirds of a mile long hole now lies silent under Dennel Hill. A pile of rocks on the floor just south of the ventilation shaft suggest a simple reason for closure. Brambles, tree growth and rubbish made both portals increasingly inaccessible over the following 27 years, although neither was fenced off until August 2008. This necessitated clearing the portals; that at the south end used to be virtually inaccessible from Netherhope Lane. The old track remains in remarkably good condition - spared the pains of the Great Outdoors, the steel rails lead into the tunnel with only light oxidisation and the creosote in which they were intensively soaked seems to have helped the sleepers survive the following 50-odd years extremely well. The tunnel is now inhabited by a population of bats.

    The Visit

    With the intention of doing Moseley Green tunnel we jumped in the car and headed for the Forest, with lucozade sport aplenty and a general feeling of silliness permeating the air we parked up and headed down the cutting. Unfortunately this was not to be as some kind soul had re-bricked up the hole in the entrance leaving only a small window about 15 feet up.

    The general consensus was 'Fuck that' so after regrouping and eventually finding somewhere with a bearable mobile signal we headed on down to Tidenham where we faired somewhat better.

    The tunnel itself is still in great shape and nothing looks to have changed from the previous report from last year. We didn't bother pushing on to the other smaller tunnel and the shouty house here as it was getting rather late and I had got my tunnels mixed up and had claimed it was only 500 odd yards long...

    The Pics

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    Some arty nonsense to finish off with

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    Thanks for looking :thumb
     
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  2. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Its a cool tunnel for sure, nice pictures, mosely bricked up eh ? Shame as its a nice tunnel.
     
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  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Pity i never make it down to South Wales :(

    Looks a nice one matey, makes a nice change without the lining in places, makes it more rustic & nice shots as well :thumb
     
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  4. Dudman

    Dudman I'm not lost until I give up finding my way...
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    Loving the effect on the last couple of shots.

    Good report mate!
     
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  5. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Thanks, was a little gutted; had some cool ideas I wanted to try out on the bracing in the middle.

    If you're ever around the area give me a shout and we'll hit a few of them!
     
  6. Techwreckie

    Techwreckie 28DL Regular User
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    That's a nice tunnel, love how it's unlined and you really lit it well too!
     
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