Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Summit Tunnel and Hills Above.

The Summit Tunnel is a 1.6 mile long railway tunnel through the Pennines in Northern England. Connecting the town of Littleborough, Greater Manchester with the large village of Walsden, West Yorkshire.

Construction started on the tunnel in 1837 with George Stephenson in charge of the project and opened in 1841 providing a much needed rail link between the major northern cities of Leeds and Manchester. The cost was said to be approx. £285000 which was nearly £200000 over the original budget of £97000. On completion the tunnel was the longest in the world for about 4 weeks until Box Tunnel between Chippenham and Bath opened. Around a thousand men worked on the project with 9 killed during the construction and 23,000,000 bricks 8,000 tons of concrete were used during the build. Stephenson considered it his greatest piece of railway engineering.

The tunnel has pretty much remained in constant use since opening with the exception of an 8 month period in 1985. On December 20th 1984 a goods train was pulling petrol tankers through the tunnel when tanker number 4 derailed causing the derailment of the tankers behind. One of the tanks began to leak and it is though the vapour from this ignited. Upon leaving the tunnel on foot the train crew were persuaded to return and bring out the engine and remaining tanks that were not ablaze. It took 2 days to bring the fire under control and the stop signal was not issued by West Yorkshire Fire Brigade until 6.30pm on Christmas eve. Fire crew remained around the tunnel until the 7th January 1985.
The builder George Stephenson said of the tunnel "I stake my reputation and my head that the tunnel will never fail so as to injure any human life" The damage done by the fire was minimal, about half a mile of track to be replaced, all electrical services replaced. The brick lining had stood up well to the fire with a minimal amount of work needed to replace the damaged lining and air shafts 8 and 9 shored up at the bases. Before re-opening locals were allowed the opportunity to walk through the tunnel with train services starting again between Todmorden and Littleborough on 19th August 1985.

The pictures were taken on a few occasions with different cameras.

The following 2 short films were taken at the tunnels Northern (Western) portal.
This shows a Leeds bound train leaving the tunnel in the direction of Walsden. It was filmed in August 2017.

This was filmed in November 2013 and shows a Manchester bound pacer train entering the tunnel.

Thanks for looking and please take a moment to share, all the pictures and video remain the copyright of Colin Green.