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Report - Whitrope Tunnel, Scottish Borders, June 2011

Bovine

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
This is on the former Waverley Line, which ran between Carlisle and Edinburgh. It was built between 1859 and 1862 and is Scotlands fourth longest tunnel at 1208 yards. Driven beneath Sandy Edge, in a remote area south of Hawick, it is on a rising southward gradient of 1 in 96 and the summit of the line is just outside the south portal at 1006 feet above sea level.
Five shafts were sunk in connection with its construction and up to 600men were employed, though sadly there were at least two fatalities. A lot of the rock was unstable, but the greatest problems were of temperature variations and excessive water ingress.
The line was closed in January 1969 and was all lifted by 1971. Miles of the trackbed was sold to the Forestry Commission, as large parts of the wilderness around it were now planted with trees. The tunnel remained open until a collapse at the Southern end in March 2002 caused the Forestry to fence it off.
Also at the Southern end, the Waverley Route Heritage Association have established a base at Whitrope Siding, re-laying track almost up to the tunnel mouth. Their efforts have also led to a Grade 'B' listing of it.

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South Portal, with massive retaining walls.

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Collapse inside the portal. water was everywhere!

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The wet and light produced lichen and moss on everything. You can see that ground pressure has deformed the arch until it collapsed. The steel reinforcement behind it showed that British Rail had a problem too.

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The rarely visited North portal. The track drains were working overtime!

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Looking south. The tunnel curves, so you cannot see through it.

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Towards the middle. The heaps and debris are from the lining!

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Refuge.

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Daylight. The whole tunnel had spalling brickwork and bits falling out of the arch.

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Giant's steps?
 

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