Report - - Standedge Tunnels - July 2010 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Standedge Tunnels - July 2010

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
A (very) Brief History

The Standedge Tunnels are a magnificent example of engineering and construction; and is unique in having four tunnels - three railways and one canal -almost parallel to each other; under the Pennine moors ‘The backbone of England’. They connect the villages of Diggle on the West side to the village of Marsden on the East side of the Pennines.

The canal and railway tunnels remain one of the greatest feats of British engineering because of the enormous task of carrying water through the Pennine hills. 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, 640 ft underground, and 640 ft above sea level , and also joins Marsden to the village of Diggle.

Construction of the Canal began in 1794. The direct route chosen involved a daring plan for a tunnel more than 3 miles long under the Pennine hills at Standedge. Initially it was estimated that the work would take 5 years, but in the end it was 17 years before the longest canal tunnel in Britain was to open.

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. 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.

The Standedge railway tunnel is the third longest in the U.K, it was the longest, and held that record for 30 years.

The explore

My first encounter of the tunnels were in 1988; when a couple of us paddled through the then derelict canal tunnel. I have always intended to revisit, so 22 years later I had a quick nosey about a month ago and waited until I had some spare time for a proper re-visit.

The chance came a couple of nights ago, after been stood up it was going to be a solo visit, so armed with my camera, tripod and a few torches I ventured inside to have a proper look around.

Unfortunately due to underestimating the length of the tunnels, time spent exploring and taking photos and flash backs to the film ‘The Descent’ I decided to call it quits just short of half way into the labyrinth of tunnels. At least it means a revisit when I have more time and another intrepid explorer.

I love the atmosphire of the tunnels, the constant drip, drip of water, the gurggling of the water in the culverts, the woosh of the wind and changes in presure as a train comes through the active tunnel, often followed by a wall of mist in the derelict tunnels, voices and footsteps are easily imagined especially when you are on your own :eek:

Standedge Tunnels Report

The portholes at the Diggle end


Health and safety information


First side passages in the tunnels


Train on the live line through a connection passage, a great feeling as you couldn't hear or see it at first, the pressure in the derelict tunnel would change and a cool breeze would gain speed until the train rattled passed returning you to the peace and quiet and the drip, drip drip of water seaping through the roof of the old tunnels.


One of the connection tunnels to the canal


The first link with the canal, I did notice the lights on the wall while I took this image


I wish the lights weren't on a motion sensor as a few steps down the stairs they came on!


No entry


At this point the canal passes below the live and derelict rail tunnels


Side tunnel


An interesting chamber which requires a bit more of an explore


As far as I got,


I thought twice about submiting a report from my visit as I had not done the full trip, but decided like many sites I've visited I usually don't see it all the first time.

I'm look forward to a revisit and a more extencive report in the near future.

Thanks for looking​
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