Report - - Harecastle South Railway Tunnel - March 2020 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Harecastle South Railway Tunnel - March 2020

Doug Judy

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Harecastle South Tunnel - 1,766yds

Built in 1848 by James Brindley & Co. Harecastle Tunnel (South) was on the original route of the West Coast Mainline (WCML) built for the North Staffordshire Railway it was one of three railway tunnels in this area with the other two built to the north, the middle - 180yds and north - 130yds which is still in use on the new alignment of the WCML. Initially it was deemed the only route possible would be to go under Harecastle Hill as to go round would be too costly and steep of which steam trains would be slow to pass however in 1966 during British Rail’s WCML electrification scheme it was found the tunnels were too small in diameter to allow for fitment of the overhead catenary and associated cabling and the boring out of the south tunnel to costly and with the advancement of the railways and more powerful locomotives it was no longer an issue to go round including the incorporated inclines, so it was decided the the WCML would be rerouted and now only the north tunnel remains in use with the new alignment passing through a new tunnel at Kidsgrove before passing through the original (north) tunnel. Harecastle South & Middle tunnels have remained abandoned since 1966 with only basic maintenance work being carried out.

So after being on my agenda for quite some time I finally had an opportunity to visit Harecastle Tunnel arriving mid morning I gained easy access via the southern portal a fair bit of graffiti and general rubbish present albeit it quite ancient, lots of refuges of various shapes & sizes tried to show this through the images, lots of repair patches marked out although all appears long abandoned, a fair amount of repairs have been made possibly a good few years ago, several sections of scaffolding are erect and present on first glance I thought they look new however whilst scaling one I discovered the wooden boards are totally rotten they’ve the consistency of wet paper!! There’s 3 air shafts all open and visible. Around the middle there large deposits of Iron Ore in places 2ft deep made for some amazing photography there’s a central drainage channel which remains operational there also an outlet drain which heads for the canal below (18ft) also of note is two refuges opposite each other have small caverns that disappear off into darkness im told possibly emergency drainage into the canal tunnel below? I was brave enough to investigate further than i did... I made it to the northern end but definitely no way out so I headed back south... totally lost track of time inside ended up in there almost 6 hours....

Explored first quarter of March.
Questions/ comments/ feedback welcome

Thanks for looking.

Northern Portal.























Southern Portal.



Southern Portal


Northern Portal.


Possible drainage hole in refuge?


Same hole as above


The curious hole on the western side is still gated


A look inside the hole on the eastern side...

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28DL Full Member
I still can't get over not only how well you light them up but the distance you get as well. Nice one.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
I was thinking as above, you do really light these well. Im guessing as your using a timer, you stand back and use your torches, but do you hold them high above you? I really want to know your method here. Great style to be envied.

Doug Judy

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I was thinking as above, you do really light these well. Im guessing as your using a timer, you stand back and use your torches, but do you hold them high above you? I really want to know your method here. Great style to be envied.
Thanks for the comment Calamity Jane! Much appreciated always nice to get decent feedback Now.... I use a shutter release cable rather than a timer no particular reason just find it suits my needs better, there’s always at least two people light painting for each each hence more light in the image one of us will is a torch mainly for close range and the other a high powered long range giving the image it’s depth of light, Hope that helps, Torches are held at various heights depending on the surroundings.. Thanks again