Report - - Standedge Tunnels, April 2014 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Standedge Tunnels, April 2014


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28DL Full Member
Hello :D

Well me & madeye decided to have another look at these tunnels this fine Easter Sunday morning. After having a good look a couple of times, and the place crawling with network rail workers with the gates wide open, we aborted our plans both times.

Fast forward to today, Easter Sunday (the day of our lord!) and both gates were closed "for business", so me and my friend decided to make progress, as we all know, god loves a trier!

History taken from Ojay's report, hope you don't mind but yours seamed to include everything along with a good could of images ;)

Sorry for the poor images, really need to spend more time in dark areas trying to get the best . . . . .



In November 1846, work started on the first of three Standedge railway tunnels. It was completed two years later at a cost of £201,608. Again the work was carried out by candlelight and over 150,000 lbs of candles were used, costing £3,618. The full length of the railway tunnel was 3 miles 60 yards.

The line opened for business on 1st August 1849, when the L & N W Railway Company issued its first timetable for Saddleworth.

A second railway tunnel was finished in 1870 and a third one in 1894. Standedge is unique in having four tunnels - three railways and one canal -almost parallel to each other under the moors.

The canal and railway tunnels remain one of the greatest feats of British engineering because of the enormous task of carrying water through the Standedge hills.
In 1847 a large water wheel was erected at Diggle Mill, the brainchild of William Broadbent.

The Standedge Canal Tunnel is the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain. It runs under the Pennine Hills for a distance of 5, 029 meters to join the West Yorkshire village of Marsden to the Greater Manchester village of Diggle.

It was initially estimated that the work would take 5 years, but in the end it was 16 years before the longest canal tunnel in Britain was to open.

With the railways taking traffic away from the canals, the Huddersfield Canal fell into slow decline.

The last commercial boat passed through the tunnel in 1921. The canal was officially closed in 1944 although a boat, "Ailsa Craig", struggled through in 1948, being the last boat to make a complete passage along the canal before the lock gates were removed in the 1950s.
A maintenance boat remained on the summit level for carrying out inspections and basic maintenance within Standedge Tunnel. In 1961 and 1962 this boat took groups of canal enthusiasts through the tunnel. In time, however, parts of the roof became unstable and some sections collapsed, making navigation impossible.

By the time funding eventually became available to restore the tunnel, it had become a major operation, with some sections needing to be stabilised with rock bolts and others to be lined with concrete. 10,000 tons of silt and 3,000 tons of fallen rocks had to be removed.

On May 1st, 2001 the tunnel was open to boats once more, after restoration costing more than five million pounds. When the tunnel was originally opened in 1811, the cost of construction had been £123,804!

Today the 1894 tunnel is still used as an emergency escape route and for emergency vehicles to pass through if and when required.




A bad photo of the live section. Not wanting to hang around here it was a very quick photo chance










Thanks for looking!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Spend more time in the live section, it will make you giggle like a schoolboy when one of the trains hurtles past your face..


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28DL Full Member
They are doing a lot of work in the tunnels, and today was the only time over the past 3 weeks the gates have been locked. I'm no doubt going back for a revisit as I really enjoyed it!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Ah I must make an effort to explore some tunnels. Some cool shots :)


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
ace fella I didn't spend long enough in here when I went
Plenty of railway going on in Huddersfield at the minute, follow the tracks back towards town and you'll find some tunnels that are a bit more interesting..

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Good effort getting in at the mo, been a very busy place for almost a year now. I do like the look of the scaffold heading up one of the shafts in your pics, there's plenty of scaff on the topside too so wonder if there's a connection? ;)

A nice Sunday stroll btw :D


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28DL Full Member
I really need to head back as I'm unsure if they are scaffolding over the canal section to sort that or if it's in between the railway and the canal.

Cheers for the comments,

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Good stuff :)

Does anyone know what the work is that's going on?
I'm not sure all that's entailed, but it's a major over hall on the 3 rail tunnels. Presume most is on the live line. All shafts have been scaffolded and cabins at both ends of the tunnel. Not seen this much activity in the 25 years I've lived this side of the hill, there must be a couple of £'s floating around to do a bit of maintenance work.

The last time it was this busy was when they mad the canal tunnel navigable again in the late 80's/early 90's :) Should be worth a stroll to see what has been done.

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