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Report - Lydgate Tunnel - April 2011.

Ojay

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#1

Lydgate Tunnel

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Starting life as the 'Delph Donkey' railway, the nickname given to a 'push-pull' LNWR (London North Western Railway) branch line which opened in 1849 to connect Oldham, Greenfield and Delph to the main Huddersfield to Manchester line

The later line to Greenfield Junction from Mumps and the stations at Lees, Grotton and Grasscroft opened on 5th July 1856. The line was the brainwave of James Lees of Delph, a mill owner, who pressured LNWR for it's construction

The Lydgate tunnel lies between Grotton and Grasscroft. When it was constructed it was the longest railway tunnel in the Oldham at 1335 yards

The average cost of the tunnel, which had to be constructed through rock was £26 per linear yard

The tunnel has a span of 25'0" feet and a Southerly curve towards its Western end. It was masonry lined throughout but later repair work has been undertaken in brick

Six shafts are thought to have been driven during construction - two were filled whilst the other four, two either side of the hill, were retained for ventilation purposes

These have depths of 140, 210, 220 and 135 feet; all are now capped

As a result of dwindling passengers, the last passenger train ran on 30th April 1955, while goods continued to be shunted until 4th November 1963

The eventual closure to the line was due to a recurring financial loss each year, most of the railway workers either took redundancy or were shifted to Mumps

Finally on 13th April 1964, the line closed and it's tracks were lifted

As for the donkey ? Well the rumour goes that the carriages were pulled by a donkey in the opening years, however, there is no firm evidence that supports it

There was speculation in 1986, that Oldham Council were considering the re-instatement of the line, but the costs wouldn't have been justified

In 2008, Lydgate's owners, British Railways Board (Residuary), carried out a five month programme of repairs. However, contrary to local press reports, these were not prompted by the tunnel's imminent collapse

Today, the Saddleworth Historical Society occasionally feature the 'Delph Donkey' in it's newsletters as a pleasant nature walk, and some memorabilia can even be viewed in the Saddleworth Museum


I finally got around to seeing this place along with one of The_Collective guys...

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