Report - - Lydgate Tunnel - Saddleworth - Feb 2011 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Lydgate Tunnel - Saddleworth - Feb 2011

The Lone Ranger

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Lydgate Tunnel


Lydgate tunnel lies between Grotton and Grasscroft in Saddleworth and runs under the village of Lydgate.

When it was constructed it was the longest railway tunnel in the Oldham at 1335 yards. According to historical documents the average cost of the Lydgate Tunnel, was £26 per lineal yard through rock - a lot of money for 1335 yards of it!

In 2007 residents in the area began voicing fears that the tunnel could collapse and lead to subsidence in their homes. Remedial work was undertaken in 2008 to repair sections of the tunnel lining, though the British Railways Board gave assurances that the work was part of an ongoing maintenance program and the tunnel was never in any danger of collapse.

Within the tunnel are 4 no. Vertical air vents, these appear to have been capped off.


The 'Delph Donkey' was 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.

However, the 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 route started at Oldham Clegg Street, the next stop was Oldham Glodwick Road before it's route to Lees. It's at the intersection of Station Street that the train would have passed under Oldham Road.
If you follow the bridlepath today, you are able to walk the route the train would have taken before it's next stop, Grotton & Springhead Station. Just past here the trian would have entered the West portal of Lydgate tunnel.

At the East portal point of Lydgate tunnel, little can be seen due to overgrown vegetation. The next stop would be Grasscroft Halt before joining the main line to Greenfield, it continued on the line until Moorgate Halt set above Uppermill.

It then left the main line and veered sharply to the left to follow the perimeter of the now disused Ladcastle Quarry before reaching Dobcross station. It then continued to Delph with one additional stop that served the 'Measurements' factory on Delph New Road where they made meters. Trains only called here at the start and end of each working day. Eventually, the line terminated at Delph where a private siding served Messrs Mallalieu's Bailey Mill. There was also a goods shed and coal staithes serving local businesses. The terminus at Delph still stands today as a private residence.

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 in 1964, the track was lifted.


This has been on my must do list for a bit, so called in on my way home from work, an easy explore after the initial access is overcome; thankfully this wasn’t as wet as I thought it may have been.

The first image is of what is left of Grotton Station just before the trains would have entered the West portal of the tunnel


How it use to look, the building is still here and looks like a nice house to live in.


Mr Dunn the last station master


The West portal


Within the West portal


General view of the tunnel


Some of the many calcite straws hanging from the roof of the tunnel


The first air vent shaft


Second vent shaft


Third vent shaft


Grasscroft end of the tunnel


The end


An interesting trip, and glad I have finally done it. The first 50 meters of the tunnel were very misty, but thankfully cleared. Most interesting features were the vent shafts, plus it was good to see what maintenance work has been undertaken on the tunnel.​


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