Report - - The Grand Arch at the end of the Waterloo Tunnel (Liverpool, May, 2022) | Other Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Grand Arch at the end of the Waterloo Tunnel (Liverpool, May, 2022)


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Of local interest only this one - driving into town I’ve often wondered where the square holes on either side of the arch in this bridge go.

In fact I’ve occasionally suggested to junior that he might like to climb in and tell me, with the usual response being ’Nah, you’re OK’.

And he has a point, why would anyone want to look inside a bridge?
Mostly curiosity I suppose, but I was also vaguely aware that this bridge was the only remnant of the Waterloo tunnel terminus.

The Victoria and Waterloo tunnels are a pair of end-to-end tunnels leading from Edge Hill on the inland side of Liverpool down to the Victoria and Waterloo docks on the waterfront, with Waterloo being the name of the lower tunnel.
It was an important line in its day, with a station (Waterloo Station) at the end and further connections up and down the coast.
To get to the station after coming out of the tunnel the line had pass under the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR) which was being built at the same time on an embankment crossing in front of the tunnel.
So a wide skewed bridge nicknamed ‘The Grand Arch’ was installed to take the Waterloo line under the LYR one - Merseyrail Northern Line trains still trundle along the embankment over the eastern end of this bridge.
The top of the bridge also formed the beginning of an elevated section of the Greet Howard Street Goods station which is where the LYR terminated.
The layout is easiest to see from the old aerial photo below, where the red arrow points to the arch.

The recent satellite view shows everything except the arch has gone.
The remains of Great Howard Street station disappeared when the Merseyrail line was installed in the late 70s and the site of Waterloo Station is now occupied by a Costco and a ventilation tower for the Kingsway road tunnel.

A closer look shows there was a lot going on in this area, with another rail bridge immediately in front of the tunnel portal, demolished in the 70s.

More info and old photos can be found at http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/l/liverpool_waterloo_goods/ and http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/l/liverpool_great_howard_street/

The area explored is outlined in blue.

Photos are all phone and the inside bit was done at night just because I happened to passing then.

Immediately to the right of the bridge is a sloping structure with bricked up openings.
It looks like an outside staircase but there are no signs of this on the walls inside.
The bottom section seems to have been a room with a fireplace.

The bridge is currently situated at the edge of a car park and the ground level has been raised by 2 - 3 yards so only the arch bit is visible.

Out of sight on the right in the picture above is a short ground level tunnel, bricked up at the back, said to have been for passenger access to the station above.

Plaques on both parapets of the bridge read: Engineer John Hawkshaw, Contractors Ms Cornick and Holmes, with a date (1849) above - corroded away on this side.
There are similar plaques on the insides of the parapets with the date in the middle instead of the Liverbirds.

An old photo from disused-stations.org.uk showing a loco going under the arch, getting up steam for the long pull up to Edge Hill - Waterloo Goods Station is just visible in the background.

Now for what’s inside this thing.

The old aerial photo above shows a series of railway arches under Gt Howard Street station, to the right of the Grand Arch.
Only the first one these is still there, full of building waste which seems to be a standard tactic in Liverpool - bulldoze rubbish into the nearest disused railway tunnel.
Looking east.

Looking west, entrance arch onto Gt Howard Street visible.

Rusty stuff.

Dead things.

Blocked tunnels.

Entrance into the bridge, looking back.

The inside of the bridge has a series of little arches running down the sides, which together with the ribs supporting the deck above the main arch form a network of tunnel-like spaces.

One of the square windows visible in the first photo above.

I don’t know if large brick-built Victorian bridges are usually hollow - maybe they are but the insides are seldom seen because they don’t have entrances as obvious as this one.
It does makes structural sense not to fill in the spaces in a bridge constructed of interior arches since this would just add weight and make repairs more difficult.

Outside again on top of the arch looking north down Gt Howard Street on a wet night, tobacco and bonded tea warehouses on the skyline.

This is such an obscure mini-explore I assumed it might be the only record of the insides of the Grand Arch, but while writing the report I found another one on here:
This also shows the underside of the previous road bridge immediately in front of the arch, see also https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/railway-tunnels-uncovered-during-renovation-12238556.

The road bridge was demolished a few years ago and replaced with the current version which has curiously unsatisfactory artwork sandblasted into the concrete, also visible in the first two exteriors above.
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Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Very interesting explore. I didn't expect so much to be under and in an unassuming bridge. I was wowed I have to say. Intrigued about the fireplace too. Nice explore. :thumb


Cave Monster
28DL Full Member
This is something that I've known about for years, but always overlooked. Amazing to see it and the phone pics are brilliant!
Thank you for posting! :thumb


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Who knew there could be so much going on in that arch. I did Waterloo/Victoria tunnels two weeks ago but will have to go back for this. Just back from Wapping tunnel, if anyone is interested the water is just under 3 feet deep. Got bored sailing across so jumped in and walked it.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Wow who would have thought it would be like that inside. Fantastic report.

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