Report - - Trubshaws Tramway Tunnel - Cauldon - August 2021 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Trubshaws Tramway Tunnel - Cauldon - August 2021


Miss TQ ✌️
28DL Full Member
Trubshaws Tramway Tunnel.

Opened: 1847
Closed: 1920
480 Yards Long.

The history:
I believe this tunnel is also known as Cauldon (or Caldon) Lowe but as Trubshaws Tramway seems to be the popular title, we will go with that.
Is is known as Trubshaws Tramway because it was engineered by James Trubshaw and he laid its first brick on 17th April 1844.

4 Tramways were constructed during the 17 and 18 hundreds, each one exceeding the last.
The one we visited today is the fourth and final one.
It carried its first traffic in July 1847 having been completed by the North Staffordshire Railway following its acquisition of the Trent & Mersey Canal six months earlier.

The technology used this time was that of a modern style railway, with flanged wheels running on smooth rails.
The line was constructed using a 3 foot 6 inch guage and the top section of each incline used a three rail layout, in which the centre rail was shared by the up and down lines.
Half way down the incline, the centre rail divided into a conventional double track layout, to form a passing loop.
Below the passing loop, the line was single track, accessed by a point which was set automatically by the descending wagons.

Trains of climbing and descending wagons were linked by cables which ran on a series of rollers and guides along the centre of the tracks.
At the top of each incline the cables ran into a winding house, where they were wound opposite ways around a brake drum.

A train of wagons, loaded with limestone, was let down on one cable which would unwind from the drum.
Meanwhile the other cable would be winding on to the drum and pulling a train of empty or part loaded wagons upwards.
Ascending trains would carry especially coal but also passengers on market days and goods for a shop at Hoften's Cross, which had its own siding.

The tunnel is 480 yards long and situated close to the line's summit approaching Caldon Low quarry.

The west portal is architecturally detailed, built predominantly in brick but with a masonry keystone and copings.
Above the arch ring face, which is stepped and five bricks deep, is a stone string course. Generally the portal’s condition is poor, suffering the effects of vegetation and two areas have loose/missing brickwork.

The east portal is similar in design to that at the west end although the arch ring face is only four bricks thick.
It is almost entirely consumed by vegetation, as is its approach cutting.

Towards its ends, the tunnel has a circular profile but this becomes egg shaped through the middle section.
Both ends suffer from flooding and thick mud, with water running at the toe of both sidewalls.
Locally there are sizeable calcite deposits, stalactites and some accumulations of ochre.
Two tall, deep but narrow refuges are provided, their bases being timber.

Near the middle of the tunnel, a short section of the lining comprises vertical brick pillars. Here a steel frame has been inserted with wooden packing above.
It’s not clear whether this is strengthening to support Ellastone Road which passes above.

Trubshaw’s tramroad including the tunnel closed in 1920.
Limestone destined for the canal was carried thereafter from Cauldon Low via the 1905 standard gauge route to a new basin near Endon.

The Explore:
We originally visited as a group the previous week but 3 of the 5 was unsure about going any further when the stick I poked down and bought out the mud indicated waist deep.
That didn't phase me nor my fellow tunneler friend so just the two of us headed back the following weekend.

We tried to gain access first at the Eastern end, which was way to overgrown to see where we was heading baring in mind at this point it was 11pm.. so we headed to the end we went previously the Western portal only this time we knew a quicker approach which didn't mean walking down the boggy trackbed to the portal.

There was some camping event going on and people everywhere.. brilliant.. We cracked on none the less both secretly hoping we wouldn't be caught emerging the overgrowth looking like two swamp monsters.

Finding the portal this time around was a lot quicker and before we knew it we were both stood one of us at each side, me with a tripod and a pokey stick and my friend with 2 sticks ready to tackle the slop.. All I could think was are we stupid or brave.. it appeared waist deep so I was telling myself expect to sink to that and not worry.

As soon as we were a few feet into the portal we was mid thigh deep in the sloppy orange stuff.. But it was only going to shallow out from there.. So on we cracked cautiously.

When we got around 2 thirds of the way through it opened up to a bigger tunnel which was a nice suprise as I lacked with the research for this one and entered blindly..
Upon Exiting the Eastern portal it's apparent just how overgrown it is, but we managed to scramble up the banking around thorns and under and over branches and emerged in the field.. Then a short walk back to the car to get changed and cleaned up roadside at well gone midnight.

That's pretty much all from this one,
Hope you enjoy the photos.

So we kick off the photos with the Western Portal.

Next photo is a few feet inside the portal, at this point were thigh deep.

Looking East, the calcite is beginning to show.

Here we are looking back West.
We have lots of calcite and stalactites.

I do love the texture and feel of a good chunk of calcite.

Here we have the first refuge, as described in the history, deep but narrow with a wooden floor. At this point the ground is dry and how glad am I.. Walking through that stuff is hard going. But it don't remain dry for long.

Still on dry ground and there's a wooden structure we're approaching.. Also noted the slope running down the right hand side, not sure what it's about but don't think it was there originally.

Closer picture of the wooden structure, here we had passed through it and was looking west. It is possibly support for the road above.

Here we have the same kind of texture and shape as calcite but I believe it's iron ore.

Continuing on the tunnel has turned wet again, nothing near as deep as the start tho.

This is just before the tunnel goes from a small tight tunnel to a almost proper railway sized one, why? We are not sure. Maybe it's an area where a passing loop was situated?.

Halfway up the bigger tunnel we can see the Eastern end, don't be fooled that orange stuff has turned deep again, around shin deep.
At this point my friend broke the crust on the edging and a very big area of it flooded out to the side and off down the smaller tunnel, for a second causing a slight panic thinking we were gunna drown, untill we stopped and thought no we really won't.

We have another large section of iron ore running from the sidewalls with the eastern end still in sight.

A bit further past that iron ore there's really pretty black and orange patches.

This is taken stood a few feet from the Eastern portal, looking back West.

This was taken purely with natural light.. Although being midnight I guess the light source was the torch so maybe not so natural but no light painting either.

The Eastern Portal, here I'm stood as far back as I could get because the overgrowth continuing down the trackbed was just too thick.

And we will finish it off with a purple edit, because why not, it looks pretty.

Hope you enjoyed, let's see where the next adventure takes us.
Till then take care :D.
Last edited:


Miss TQ ✌️
28DL Full Member
It's got it all: Great write up, nicely lit photos, lovely formations, and tons of sludge. Love it :thumb
Thankyou Alley.
Haha, the sludge most definitely added to the fun, plus it looks great in photos, I'd do it again ;) :D.

Similar threads