Report - - Butterhouse Tunnel - Diggle - July 2011 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Butterhouse Tunnel - Diggle - July 2011

The Lone Ranger

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Butterhouse Tunnel – Diggle - July 2011



Butterhouse Tunnel was the first structure encountered by westbound traffic on the Micklehurst loop which was a two-track ‘relief’ railway running along the east side of the Tame Valley, effectively four-tracking the main trans-Pennine route via Diggle. It was mostly used for freight. Laying additional tracks on the original alignment was practical due to the valley’s steep sides and a lack of space.

Its west end has been buried since closure in 1966 but the scruffy-looking eastern portal remains. A fleeting glimpse of it can be caught from passing trains. Most of the top copings have succumbed to time and vandalism.

Constructed in engineering brick, the main lining is seven bricks thick at the crown. Towards the eastern end, a secondary lining has been added in red brick, itself 3-6 bricks thick. Its purpose was presumably for strengthening.

The tunnel is slightly curved and, inside, boasts a patchwork of red and engineering brick, with refuges provided for the platelayers.

Network Rail’s draft Route Utilisation Strategy for Yorkshire & Humber puts forward the reopening of the Micklehurst loop as one solution to current capacity constraints across the Pennines.

My Visit

This is the Standedge Tunnels little brother, it’s nowhere as grand and without any side tunnels or vent shafts, it is however worth a visit and can be combined with other venues in the area.

I had wanted to pay the tunnel a visit for a bit, but had heard conflicting information as to whether both ends were now sealed. The only way to find out was to have a look for myself, an interesting place for a quick trip and an ideal venue if you want to experiment with long exposure shots.


This is the view from the Eastern Porthole showing some camouflaged Harris fencing, the local kids have been playing.


What impressed me about the tunnel was all the calcite deposits/efflorescence and the amount of calcite straws hanging from the roof.



Further into the tunnel were more stunning calcite straws



The end of the tunnel was soon reached, plenty of infill meant this was the end of the line - no pun intended ;)


A quick play with the torch and shadows before I retraced my steps back into the glorious sunshine


Well that’s it, a nice mooch worth doing if in the area.

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