Toft Tunnel, near Bourne, Lincs, May 2017

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HughieD

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1. The History
The Bourne to Saxby Railway Act was authorized in 1888 allowing the Eastern & Midlands Railway Company (EMRC) establish a connection between the industries of the Midlands with the East Coast ports. Part of the link was to the west from Bourne where Eastern were building the line while Midland pushed east from Saxby. Despite an outbreak of smallpox amongst the navies the two railways met at Little Bytham.

Resident engineer George MacDonald was in charge of the line’s construction and the most challenging section of the line was the ridge to the west of Bourne. Hence the Toft Tunnel to be driven at a length of 330-yards. Initial work started in November 1890 with an initial workforce of 100 navvies. Work on the tunnel proved difficult and the workforce was increased to approximately 400. The main issue was the extraction of 300,000 cubic yards of shale. In the spring of 1893 the two-track tunnel was eventually completed with the use of around 2.5 million Staffordshire blue brindles (bricks) to line the tunnel. The first goods train passed through in June that year. Passenger traffic started just under a year later, by which time the E&M had been acquired by Midland and Great Northern.

Toft tunnel was built with imposing portals, being brick-built with some masonry detailing. They include a course of semi-circular blocks that frames the four-brick thick lining, typical of many GN portals. Inside, refuges are staggered between the two sides. In the face of vociferous local opposition, both passenger and goods services ended in February 1959 and work to remove the tracks started in 1962. The approach cuttings and land over the tunnel now form the Toft Tunnel Nature Reserve while the bore itself is a bat hibernaculum.

2. The Explore
Relaxed explore on a lovely spring day. Big up to The Wombat for the tip-off about this place. Went in the hard way (east end) and came out the easy way (west end). The tunnel is very clear and very straight and well worth an hour or so of your time. One thing that is noticeable is that there as been for more leaching of water at the west end and hence the brick lining at the east end of the tunnel is a lot more smooth. There’s plenty of light in the tunnel given its relatively short bore, hence I didn’t even need to light paint.

3. The Pictures
Let’s start at the east end:

33819491844_e288f2e16c_b.jpgimg0346 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Down the bank we go:

34531558721_52b99d0772_b.jpgimg0352 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Spotted a way in?

34531637061_3195ebfe78_b.jpgimf0345 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34661886355_92dc0f3dde_b.jpgimg0357 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And we’re in!

34661844255_9bb1f35f97_b.jpgimg0359 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Refuge no.15:

34531441971_60da38a5a5_b.jpgimg0360 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Note tunnel lining is very smooth here:

34621144336_ae5ef4748c_b.jpgimg0362 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Looking back eastwards through the tunnel:

34499737672_dbff24fdb3_b.jpgimg0371 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Refuge no.1!

34620977676_b6fd38d4a5_b.jpgimg0373 by HughieDW, on Flickr

You can clearly see all the leaching here:

33851964793_249a2a2e68_b.jpgimg0383 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34500377262_5782f2c438_b.jpgimg0395 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Refuge no.29:

34499351242_27c50bbe64_b.jpgimg0403 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34661495135_97cf1e70af_b.jpgimg0387 by HughieDW, on Flickr

33818914554_d45d1f7ff3_b.jpgimg0400 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34530935151_89885ef5b2_b.jpgimg0401 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And on to the west end:

34661692355_988a49883e_b.jpgimg0367 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And out we pop at the west end:

33852415793_23ca163b2f_b.jpgimg0413 by HughieDW, on Flickr

33852021213_c1ff86e915_b.jpgimg0377 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34620516756_8a2ed7d250_b.jpgimg0412 by HughieDW, on Flickr

34276332500_73bbd0e799_b.jpgimg0381 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

HughieD

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Nice work mate, glad it went well :)
It's quite a nice walk in the area around the tunnel too

Cheers mate. Yeah...looked it. Shame I was, as always, pushed for time.

Nice bit of photography that Hughie, great shots, Thanks

Cheers Smiler. Really pleased with my new wide angle 10-18mm zoom.
 

elhomer12

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Not going to lie, I'm impressed you've got enough to make a report on this tunnel. I stopped off here last year and didn't even get my camera out.... just walked down, nope, walked back up to the car :eek:
 

HughieD

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Not going to lie, I'm impressed you've got enough to make a report on this tunnel. I stopped off here last year and didn't even get my camera out.... just walked down, nope, walked back up to the car :eek:

Cheers man. At first there appears there isn't much to tunnels but if you take your time and have a tripod and touch you can look at them from different perspectives.
 

Mikeymutt

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Enjoyed that a lot hughie thanks.i need more underground.hopefylly this weekend.great stuff mate
 

prettyvacant71

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Great bit of history there!

Thats how i like my palisade, swiveling to the side :highly_amused:

Love that shot of the danger sign fab light. I enjoyed that thanx HD!
 

HughieD

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Enjoyed that a lot hughie thanks.i need more underground.hopefylly this weekend.great stuff mate

Looking forward to your report mate. Can't beat a bit of tunnel acton.

Nice one Hughie:encouragement:

Must get round a few more of these tunnels myself at some point.

Cheers JSP. Getting quite into them.

Great bit of history there!

Thats how i like my palisade, swiveling to the side :highly_amused:

Love that shot of the danger sign fab light. I enjoyed that thanx HD!

Cheers PV! They should patent that type of fence.
 

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