Report - - Soothill Tunnel - Batley - August 2021 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Soothill Tunnel - Batley - August 2021


Miss TQ ✌️
28DL Full Member
Soothill (Woodkirk) Tunnel:

Opened: 1890
Closed: 1953
659 Yards long.

The Great Northern's 4¾ mile connection between Batley and Beeston Junction, on the Leeds branch of the East Coast Main Line, opened for goods traffic in July 1890, with passenger services introduced a month later.

The route had ten underbridges and a single five arch Viaduct but these were overshadowed by Soothill Tunnel, sometimes referred to as Woodkirk Tunnel.

The portals are substantial and attractive, built from stone and with buttresses either side of the entrance.
Above a string course, the parapet rises to a central point.
Unlike other GN tunnels, the voussoirs are flat, not rounded.

Inside the tunnel is structurally in great condition.
The lining comprises a semicircular brick arch supported by vertical stone side walls.
These incorporate refuges.
Appearances suggest that the shaft was originally lined in masonry but this has been mostly replaced with red brick, At its base are large voussoirs.

The Tunnel incorporates a curve of 30 chains radius extending inwards from the west end for about 400 yards, before a straight section takes over to reach the east portal.

The tunnel has one ventilation shaft, which we headed above ground and managed to find, it is not capped.
659 yards in length, a gradient of 1:50 is encountered throughout, climbing towards the east.

Water ingress caused difficulties during the tunnel's period of operation and the resulting deterioration and necessary repair work having an expensive price tag resulted in Passenger services being withdrawn in October 1951,
The section from Batley to Woodkirk - through the tunnel - suffered complete closure on 6th July 1953.
Freight between the Woodkirk quarries and Tingley continued until June 1964.

Land above and to the north of the bore was used for landfill in the 1970/80s.
In the Nineties, engineers discovered that the plant and machinery used to move the waste had caused cracks to form in the lining.
The portals, which had previously been open, were secured on health and safety grounds.

Although the area has since been landscaped, polluted liquids still permeate the tunnel, giving rise to noxious gases.

Infrastructure, in the form of pipes, ducts, cables and tanks, has been installed in an effort to manage this, there is an associated building at the western entrance which forms part of the access arrangements.
The equipment inside the western building appears to be some sort of water treatment facility, assumably removing any toxins from water being drained out the tunnel before it goes into the water course.

After keeping an eye on this tunnel everytime we was in the area we finally managed to catch it open!
Most excited we decided not to delay so headed straight home grabbed the gas masks and detectors and headed back later that day.

As soon as you arrive outside the tunnel before entering the smell of gas is noteable.
It's a simular smell to methane however the gas detectors never went off so we put our masks on and continued keeping a eye on the levels.

Inside the tunnel the Eastern end is relatively dry but before long you are met by a lot of iron ore mud puddles with what we assumed must be the polluted liquids floating in and around so we done our best not to disturb and puddles and kept to the dry parts.

It's quite obvious the tunnel gradient falls towards the west as the floor is covered by much more "waste" than at the Eastern end.
There is a massive pile of waste rotting away that appears to have been chucked down the shaft, quite disgusting to say the least.
But all in all very happy this 'hitlist' tunnel has finally been accomplished.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.
Apologies if they are in the wrong order, in all honesty I think they are but in my defence It was 2 months ago and I've slept :D


So first image, is looking Western, the air shaft can just be seen in the distance.


Looking back at the Eastern Portal.


Looking West.

Looking East. We carefully avoided all the soggy patches as not to disturb any possible gases.


Fog creeping into the picture in the distance.


This was a very wet section.. We had to walk across tubes/bricks to keep out of the slop.


A big tanker, what would it have been used for? All hooked up to pipes so a guess is maybe to store the liquid gases and drain them out of the tunnel?. Please feel free to educate me.


Self explanatory really.. It's a refuge :D.


The Air shaft, fog was present making pictures hard to take.


It's strange how one minute the walls are dark coloured and dirty and the next almost clean.


Looking back at the air shaft.


This should have been one of the first in order as its looking back at eastern portal.


The western portal just before the water treatment hut.


Eastern portal.


Western portal.

Explored this with my good pal @Doug Judy and glad he was there because at times when I smelt stronger gas, I worried but he kept me calm, even tho the gas detector wasn't going off.. Thanks TK :thumb

Hope you enjoyed and see you on the next one :D.
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Doug Judy

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Was a good explore this one, Given it’s history and all the hype of toxic gases I think there’s also a physiological element to this place as well, It takes a strong focused mind to overcome.. Great pics what a difference using a tripod for the phone makes so much better quality :thumb


Miss TQ ✌️
28DL Full Member
Was a good explore this one, Given it’s history and all the hype of toxic gases I think there’s also a physiological element to this place as well, It takes a strong focused mind to overcome.. Great pics what a difference using a tripod for the phone makes so much better quality :thumb
It was good, once we got out alive :D
Nah I'm joking, interesting, different tunnel, right up our street.
Your right tho, when your smelling something and you know the history you can easily overthink it and panic.
"Keep calm don't panic" "I'm panicking" :oops::D
No going back from the tripod now, thankyou for teaching me the ropes. :thumb

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