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Thread: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire

  1. #1
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    Default Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    I visited here earlier this year. Despite the fact it is not too far from where i live i had not taken a look for a few years. The tunnel was built as part of the Leicester & Swannington Railway which opened in 1832. The section from Leicester to Desford Junction was closed in 1966. Parts for listed ventilation shafts which were under repair were being stored on the trackbed at the time of my visit. Unfortunately it was not possible to gain access to the tunnel itself, but pictures were obtained through a hole in the door.



    The trackbed


    Vent grille


    The portal


    Looking inside the tunnel








    Steps down to the trackbed




    Mile post

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    Interesting stuff, did the plate say any thing in pic 5
    Aversos Compono Animos

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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    I like that vent grille and the mile post. Are they going to keep it locked up do you know? Enjoyed your pics. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.


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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    I think the plate in pic 5 was wooden and originally had a sign or something mounted onto it. Im not sure what its like now, i heard from somewhere that the door was being blocked off, but ive not been back since so dont know.

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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    Old Midland Loco’s were once stored within. Possibly once used as a local council storage facility.

    Leicester City Council bought it from BR for £5.00 (absolute fact!) early 1970's. For all of 5 minutes the Leicester Mercury was full of suggestions for what they could do with it. Everything from mushroom farms to a mile long disco. Apparently no one even considered that it was an important artefact of industrial archaeology that should be preserved intact as a museum. It has quietly faded away from public knowledge.

    The airshafts may be seen in the New Parks Estate, the most visible being on New Parks Way. The second tunnel to be opened in the UK to carry passenger traffic. Opened on 17th July 1832. Built by Stephenson.

    Passenger trains ran until 24th September 1924 and the tunnel was closed completely on 4th April 1966

    Inside the single bore tunnel is a small storage area and the remnants of an experiment, which appears to be some form of underground communication system. The bore itself was in a reasonable condition in most places, however there is evidence of the walls being pushed outwards, and therefore, a lowering/bulging of the roof in some places, though not enough to cause subsidence on the surface (yet). The western portal has now been landscaped and covered over by a housing estate. There is an access shaft and ladder, which appears to surface in someone’s back garden, it’s either locked shut or has something heavy on top of it. The tunnel in its early days was one of the longest in the world. The contractor responsible for driving the tunnel was D. Jowett of Buxton with William Clark and Job Jowett as his co-partners.

    In the spring of 1832 Daniel Jowett had been accidentally killed in falling down one of the working shafts. By later standards the tunnel was built to a somewhat restricted profile, its semi-circular roof having a radius of only 5 ft 9 ins. With a height from rail level to crown of 13ft 6ins. The tunnel has ten shafts in all. Seven of these are 8 feet diameter x 10 feet above ground level, whilst the remaining three are 7 feet diameter x 10 feet above ground level. They are all brick built with stone copings and metal grilles. Some of the shafts are now situated in a housing estate and two are actually in the gardens of private houses.

    When passenger trains used the tunnel, because it was so narrow, the windows of the coaches had special protection to prevent accidents to the passengers’ heads. It seems right from the start the “tight” clearance has been a handicap and it is recorded that on the first opening day, the first train through had its funnel foul the top of the tunnel. Span: 11ft 6ins. Height: 13ft 6ins. Straight battered sidewalls, semi-circular arch with brick lined walls and brick portals.

    Dead straight & dead level. The first railway tunnel in the Midlands, possibly the next major tunnel after Box. It was a masterpiece of civil engineering though very difficult ground and, in opening access to the NW Leics coalfield, enabled the growth of Leicester to a prosperous manufacturing town (at one time, the second richest in Europe). Passenger traffic lasted only a few years: this was of little concern to the L & S & subsequently the Midland & LMS: coal was the reason for this line & little else besides crushed rock from the Charnwood area quarries. West Bridge Station was adjacent to the Soar Navigation (which connected to the R Trent & Grand Union Canals) & there were a number of loading staithes for narrow boats (going south) & barges (going north). As with so many of its type, Beeching did for it, though I'd be hard pushed to say when the last train ran. Certainly I cycled west from Glenfield in the mid 60's when the M1 was open over the line (the parapets still visible from the motorway though I don't know if the bridgehole has been filled).

    There were minerals wagons (BR / Great Central "windcutter" type) on the old brickworks sidings so I suppose it was open then. The line from Desford Junction West is still in traffic as the Leicester (London Rd) - Burton line. The two other significant engineering features of the line are likewise derelict: the Bagworth & Swannington incline planes. The former was a major headache for the young company & a loop was soon constructed to bypass this bottleneck, at the expense of a substantial cutting & embankment. The Swannington incline formed the final length of the railway, descending for about a mile at 1 in 7 (?) to an end on junction with the Coleorton Railway that ran through a 459-yard tunnel.

    After several years of disuse Marconi Radar used the tunnel to test lasers for the Royal Navy & the control boxes, cabling & spotlights for the experiments are still to be seen inside. The Southern portal has been landscaped over & is in an estate with only a (locked) manhole cover for access. The Southern portal was securely bricked up with a padlocked solid iron door when Marconi finished with it

    Tunnel ventilation shaft, rear of 49 Faire Road

    Ventilation shaft of tunnel for former Swannington to Leicester Railway Line. 1830-32. Tunnel by Robert Stephenson. Burnt blue header brick with stone coping. Tapering circular shaft about 1.5 - 2 metres high. No 49 is not included.

    Tunnel ventilation shaft, 48 Faire Road

    Ventilation shaft of tunnel for former Swannington to Leicester Railway Line. 1830-32. Tunnel by Robert Stephenson. Red and burnt blue header brick with stone coping, partly concealed by creepers. Tapering circular shaft about 2-3 metres high. Nos 46 & 48 not included.

    Tunnel ventilation shaft, adj. 12 Tredington Road

    Ventilation shaft of tunnel for former Swannington to Leicester Railway Line. 1830-32. Tunnel by Robert Stephenson. Burnt blue header brick with stone coping. Tapering circular shaft about two - two and half metres high, with domed metal grille. No 12 and garage are not included.

    Tunnel ventilation shaft, 11 Glenfield Frith Drive

    Ventilation shaft of tunnel for former Swannington to Leicester Railway Line. 1830-32. Tunnel by Robert Stephenson. Burnt blue and red header brick with stone coping, completely concealed by creepers. Tapering circular shaft about 2-3 metres high. No. 11 is not included.

    Tunnel ventilation shaft, adj. 25 Fairfield Crescent

    Ventilation shaft of tunnel for former Swannington to Leicester Railway Line. 1830-32. Tunnel by Robert Stephenson. Red header brick with stone coping concealed by creepers. Tapering circular shaft about 1.5 metres high. No. 25 is not included.

    Tunnel entrance, Stephenson Court

    Entrance to the tunnel for the former Swannington to Leicester Railway. 1830-32, by Robert Stephenson. Brick retaining wall with stone parapet. Battered brick piers flank horseshoe archway which has been blocked C20 with brick and metal doors. Granite portal originally designed by Stephenson not erected because of cost. One of the earliest railway tunnels in England and, at 1,796 yards long, the longest for a long while. Opened 17 July 1832 by Stephenson's Comet. (Leicestershire Industrial History Society, An Early Railway, 1982).

    There are 13 airshafts throughout

    Hope this is of interest to some of you

    Kind regards from
    G G

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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    A great deal of interest indeed! I think it's quite important, imo, to see how the places we explore fit into the context of history and the local surroundings, so thankyou very much for such a detailed account. I very much enjoyed reading about it.

    Cheers :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.


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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    Hi GG
    Thanks for all the info and your very detailed and interesting report. Love disused railway tunnels - the smell and the dampness - and good to know the history that goes with them.
    Cheers Tony
    When it's gone it's gone

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    Default Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    Some of us stopped by here on Saturday. They have filled the gap in the fence in now, but still easy enough to climb if you wanted to. Work has been going on for a while

    http://www.scottwilson.com/projects/...ld_tunnel.aspx


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    Smile Re: Glenfield Tunnel, Leicestershire


    Nice report GG its always nice to know the back ground of these places, one day thats all that will be left
    Aversos Compono Animos

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    Exclamation


    this is where it all started for me.absolutley love this place,still never managed to gain access but will









    swannington incline plane

    West bridge station






    Has anyone any idea of the exact location of of the man hole cover over the back filled entrance and is it visible ?

    I'm not sure if anyone is aware that the rally is going under regeneration in the next 3 years and one of the proposed plans is to sell off the skinney section of land where the relic of west bridge station sits.
    Last edited by boothy; 31st Mar 09 at 15:13.

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