Report - - Waterloo and Victoria Tunnels, Liverpool- February 2017 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Waterloo and Victoria Tunnels, Liverpool- February 2017


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member

The Waterloo Tunnel in Liverpool is a former railway tunnel, 852 yd. (779 m) long, which opened in 1849.

Construction of this tunnel resulted in a number of buildings above the works being abandoned due to subsidence. From Pall Mall (west portal) the line originally continued under Great Howard Street to Waterloo Goods railway station, now the site of aCostco. After 1895 it continued to the dock railway system and on to Liverpool Riverside at the Pier Head for direct connection to the passenger liners. The east portal, composed of brick, opens into a cutting between Byrom Street and Fontenoy Street, which connects to Victoria. Its west portal is composed primarily of sandstone and exits underneath Pall Mall. It is brick lined throughout with a horseshoe profile and is provided with ample refuges. All ventilation shafts are capped.

Byrom Street Cutting

In October 2009 it was confirmed that the Byrom Street cutting was a hitching and unhitching point for trains being cable hauled to Edge Hill via the Victoria Tunnel. Shunting locomotives took trains from The Waterloo Good Station to the cutting to be hitched onto the cable. The Cutting was also a water and fuelling point for shunters. It is 69 yard box cutting, primarily brick lined and four tracks wide. An overbridge, also of brick construction spans this cutting.

The Victoria Tunnel is 1.537 miles (2.474 km) long and also opened in 1849.

Originally wagons were pulled up the steep gradient from the Byrom Street cutting and through Victoria to Edge Hill by a wire rope. The rope was the largest iron wire rope ever manufactured. A brick building housed a large static steam engine that wound the rope pulling the rail wagons up the tunnel. This rope snapped in 1895 after 46 years of use so it was decided to abandon this method and use locomotives instead. Passenger trains were introduced soon after. Its eastern portal is a grade 2 listed structure composed of a red sandstone arch and is adjacent to Edge Hill station. 200 yards from Edge Hill are brick lined, with the remainder being unlined until after the 4th ventilation shaft where brick is used again. The tunnel is of a different design with a crown sprung from vertical sidewalls. The west portal opens into the cutting. Five ventilation shafts open into the tunnel with at least another five being hidden. 600 yards of the tunnel are used for shunting trains at Edge Hill with future plans to open up the entire length including Waterloo.

Due to declining traffic numbers, both tunnels closed on 19 November 1972.

History taken from Wikipedia and Forgotten Relics.

My first attempt and second visit.

The first trip to visit the Tunnels was part of a supposedly well organised getaway from North Northumberland and down to Lancashire to meet up with a friend that I’d known from University. I set off with all the usual equipment necessary for the exploration, as well as taking a small case of clothing since I’d be staying over for a couple of days. Knowing how much I’d spent on a hotel, fuel and subsequent costs to come from dining at the Beefeater Grill next door, there was a good deal of pressure on me to successfully access and photograph the tunnels

Slurping down a quick cup of tea in the hotel and eating a packet of complimentary sugar to wake me up, (I skipped breakfast), I set off to Ormskirk to catch the train to Liverpool. As I sat on the train with my overcrowded rucksack and tripod looking more like a weapon, I was feeling very optimistic that this explore was going to be a good one. Then I saw it from the carriage window. The main point of access was closed off. To those that that have been here, you probably know what this refers to. Feeling slightly deflated, I headed on towards Waterloo’s west portal. The height of walls, getting everything down safely, spending hours inside, getting back out and to Ormskirk, followed by the 200 mile drive home that day, I was already making a subconscious decision. It was also very busy so I headed back to Ormskirk and onto a couple of decent culverts. As I passed through Chorley, the heavens opened and stayed open all the way home. Yes, I called it quits and headed back. No culverts and no tunnels. One big fail.

Frustrated by my ordeal and letting a couple of weeks pass, I booked a 7:00am train directly to Liverpool. I arrived at Lime Street before Lunch with much optimism. Again the main access point was closed but I had with me a length of rope which would prove to be one of the most important items on my possession. Lowering my rucksack and camera bag safely to the ground, I dropped down unladen and felt relief of making it past the first hurdle. The second hurdle didn’t give me any trouble and that was it. I was in.

For the next 4-5 hours, I had the Tunnels all to myself. An experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. A section in the first 100 metres of Waterloo has suffered from an oil/fuel spill. Large puddles giving off choking vapours didn’t do me much good but I pressed on nevertheless. Light painting in here was trickier as I had to watch my footing when running down the bore. Taking the train home and smelling like fuel wouldn’t make mine or the other passenger’s journey very pleasant.

After taking too many photos in Waterloo, I was standing at its end looking into the Byrom Street cutting, which gave way to the sounds of the city, fresh air, much needed light…. And a huge pile of Liverpool’s unwanted junk. You name it, it was there.

After clambering over Stig of the Dumps penthouse and photographing the impressive brick lined cutting and overbridge, I made it to the portal of the Victoria Tunnel. Sadly I didn’t get the entire way through but if there’s another chance to head back one day, I will. I spent a good few hours more here and with a train to catch at 6:00 I headed back. It was a very long and tiring day, but absolutely worth it. I didn’t see the plastic pig head on a stick, though I was looking out for it.



The West Portal of Waterloo. A large apartment complex being built directly above has resulted in the company using this entrance to check for stability.


The tunnel floor has been raised but it does return to normal level again.


Calcite adorns the crown and in the distance you can see where the tunnel floor levels off.


Wooden cable hangers remain in place.One of the few fixtures that remain.


A capped ventilation shaft can be seen, along with ample and numerous refuges throughout.


A good indicator of how shallow these tunnels are.


The East Portal of Waterloo looking out into the Byrom Street Cutting.


Liverpool waste reclamation site. Free dumping and no charge for soil.


I didnt even notice this horror show line up until a matter of feet away. A genuine scare.


A brick building of unknown use and the west portal of Victoria in the background.


Switch. Another relic that has survived the decommissioning of the tunnels.


A view from Victoria's west portal. The pinhole of light is Edge Hill.


A refuge for the workers cut from the natural sandstone. Standing inside, there is an eerie humming sound.


Looking up towards Edge Hill. The profile of this tunnel differs to that of Waterloo. A crown sprung from vertical sidewalls


A good example of the favourable geology here. A barely distinguishable number is placed above the refuge. Possibly 36?


The ventilation shaft cut into the sidewall makes a nice change to the usual centre crown types.


One of the longest light painted shots I've done for a while. Looking towards Edge Hill.


The green glow of the overgrown byrom Street Cutting.


Being a geology graduate, it's always good to see some rock exposures. A sleeper with attached rail chair has also survived.


One of the last light painted photos of the day, inside Waterloo looking towards the west portal.


A great day overall.



28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great report :thumb, I was looking at Brunswick tunnel the other week whilst working nearby, that must be just up the road from these!


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Great report :thumb, I was looking at Brunswick tunnel the other week whilst working nearby, that must be just up the road from these!
Thanks. I had no idea about Brunswick Tunnel. Another one to visit at some point.