Exploring with Bob
History and Facts
This railway tunnel heads east 1332 yards under the ridge that the Village of Lydgate stands on. So someone imaginatively called it Lydgate Tunnel. Trains joined the mainline from Greenfield Station (which still exists) and made their way to Delph. The pull (to Delph) and push (back to Greenfield) service became known locally as the Delph Donkey. It’s more of a bridleway now. The line was heavily promoted by James Lees, who was the owner of a mill near the end of the track in Delph. Can’t think why he might have been so keen on it. The first train made its way along the track on the 4th July 1856 and the service terminated on the 13th April 1964. In 2008 the British Railways Board carried out five months of repairs. Residents in Lydgate were a little worried the tunnel was doing to collapse and their houses along with it. But the BRB said that was utter bollocks and they should stop talking crap.
I found myself at a loose end at the same point in time @Ojay did, but also when it was raining quite a lot. So, drains were out of the question and this place seemed like a good subterranean place to try. So that’s what we did.
It's a bit boggy leading up to the tunnel along the old track, so we attacked it from the embankment to be greeted not by one but two palisade fences. Looking back on the palisade.
A little after that and there is this tough little bastard giving absolutely no fucks that he needs light to survive. Hat's off to Ojay for spotting this and letting me have the snap, as well as providing the lighting.
The tunnel starts off dry enough, but the terrain underfoot starts to get a bit wet and the air takes on a strong smell of sulphur. Right around this part. The colours are amazing.
There aren't many stalagmites in this tunnel, I thought a little curiously. This was all I could see Lydgate had to offer.
However, it was not short on other features. This is the first vent and there are three of these. They're all capped, which is a bit of a shame, but that may prevent death or something so I guess it is fair enough. However, given this was capped it makes whatever caused this explosion a bit of a mystery. The earth appears to have plummeted out the vent with such velocity that it has sprayed up the walls standing 25 feet high.
The tunnel is marked by these, erm, markers all along the way. 28 is a significant number because...
One of the many alcoves cut into the rockside and dressed with stone of various sizes, together with the original boxing for the signalling cabling. The tunnel is an interesting construction of stone and brick in different places.
Speaking of brick, a crafty look up the second vent, which has received some remedial work and been shored up a little.
Looking directly up (which was difficult with all the drips of water dropping down).
I am not sure not where it was on our journey into the tunnel that the floor turned into a thick orange sludge with a river running through it, but it happened a couple of times. You could see where explorers or kids who were not as prepared with a fine pair of wellington boots had hesitated to make their way through or turn back altogether. However, after the second vent the floor turned back into something you could see supporting a train again and this was a cracking opportunity to fire up my lasers.
Possibly with the rain outside and the tunnel being damp anyway the lasers fired up well in the mist. The snap doesn't really do them justice; it's like standing in a tunnel with a massive green star.
Cleaner than the first, more structurally sound than the second (assuming the bricks to the left don't originate from inside it) is the third vent. This is a nice example of the mix of stone and brickwork that makes up the tunnel.
And as we approach the end of the tunnel a final look back up. On the left you can see some of the sludge that makes up vast sections of the floor. On the right, the casing for the signal cable is missing. It was a very interesting tunnel with lots of features and happily as a result of that, not all my snaps turned out to be lengthy sections of tunnel.
And finally, The End, which has been bricked up.
And that was that. A cracking way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon. Cheers, Ojay.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the report.