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Report - Torpantau Tunnel, Brecon Beacons - November 2012

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by cunningcorgi, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. cunningcorgi

    cunningcorgi 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Apr 12, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Visited with wonkycows.


    Torpantau - also known as Beacons or Beacon Summit Tunnel - claimed the record for the highest tunnel on the UK's standard gauge network - 1,313 feet above sea level. Reached by a three-mile climb from the south, trains curved sharply right before leaving its darkness on a falling gradient towards Brecon.

    The line through it opened for business in 1863 though construction work had finished the previous year. The Brecon and Merthyr Junction Railway (B&MJR) gained the unfortunate nickname of "Breakneck and Murder Railway" due to the number of accidents it suffered which, thanks to its steep gradients, were often severe. Neither was its reputation done any favours by the slowness of its trains. They ground to complete halt when the line shut up shop in 1964.

    The structure has a masonry roof but the walls are laregly unlined. Occasional collars of brickwork have been installed for strengthening purposes. Though in generally good condition, the tunnel is now flooded by a stream at its northern end. This water course flows through the bore.

    In 1947, a passenger train was stuck in the tunnel for several days during the winter snows. The poor bastards, sorry passengers, had to be dug out by troops from Brecon which must have been some experience seeing as it is bloody freezing here. Someone once described Torpantau Tunnel as one of the highest, coldest and loneliest places on a railway anywhere in the UK. That was probably after a summer visit.

    The SAS start their famous Fan Dance about a hundred yards from the southern portal at the site of the old Torpantau station.

    The Brecon Mountain Railway have talked for years of extending their line to go through the tunnel and reuse it. Talk is cheap but draining the cutting to the southern portal isn't so it remains just talk -



    1. Southern portal

    2. The view from inside the southern portal

    3. The curve begins

    4. Looking back up the gradient

    5. All sorts of wall

    6. Masonry roof, exposed rock walls

    7. Northern portal appears

    8. The way we came

    9. Northern portal

    Thanks for looking.

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