Saturday, 28 November 2020

Queensbury Tunnel (Updated)

 I previously posted about the Queensbury Tunnel in December 2017, a number of the pictures that were featured in that post were lost over time so I recently thought I would go back and have a look at what I had and repost them. The full set can be seen here, on Flickr, and on Clickasnap, with some put together to make the following video available to see here and on YouTube, please take a moment to subscribe to my channel.


The video features modern and vintage images taken along the trackbed from Strines Cutting to the former site of Queensbury Station. The Historical images and ones inside the tunnel that are not mine are all Creative Commons licensed or copyright unknown. Credits are given were possible.

Strines Cutting was a railway cutting on approach to the southern portal of Queensbury Tunnel. It was approx. 1030ft long and 59ft deep and ran through solid rock. The cutting was crossed by an Aqueduct that carried Strines / Ovenden beck over the railway. This bridge is still standing today although the ground below is now infilled and it looks more like a wall across some waste ground. The cutting is now largely filled in with only a short section to the tunnel entrance still remaining although this is mostly flooded as drainage along the cutting and in to the tunnel has always been an issue.

Strines Beck Aquaduct

The Aqueduct now.

Queensbury Tunnel was built by the Great Northern Railway to provide a link from Holmefield Station, Halifax to Queensbury Station allowing travel beyond to Bradford and Keighley. Construction was started in May 1874 and took over 3 years to complete opening to goods traffic on the 14th October 1878. Passenger trains not being introduced until December 1879 when the station at Queensbury was completed. It was to be another 5 years before those same passengers could complete the journey to Keighley, the line from Queensbury to Keighley making slow progress due to financial issues.

Once completed the tunnel ran for 7503ft making it the longest on the Great Northern Railway and also one of the deepest in the country. There had been plans to have 8 air shafts, the plans changing then to 7 and finally 5 due to significant water ingress (the tunnel and cutting has always suffered issues due to water drainage). The deepest shaft completed was 379ft deep, although shaft number 5 would have reached a depth of 414ft had it been completed. Around 700 men were involved in the tunnels construction and at least 10 are thought to have died during the build period with many more injured. 

Once opened the tunnel was operational until the 1950's, the line suffering as passenger numbers declined, but freight traffic remained busy until after the 2nd World War. The high cost of maintaining the tunnel and cutting made the tunnel an early favourite for closure during the post war economy measures and the now with hindsight short sighted decision was made to close the line to traffic. Passenger services were withdrawn on the 23rd May 1955, with goods traffic withdrawn on the 28th May 1956. The line through the tunnel was then mothballed until 1963 when it was finally uplifted.

There is now a campaign for the tunnel to be reopened as part of a cycleway connecting Bradford with Halifax. Engineers are currently trying to push through a scheme to abandon and fill the tunnel with concrete. I  am hoping the people campaigning to save the tunnel are successful in the fight. To find out more please take a moment to view the site at http://www.queensburytunnel.org.uk/

The Former Queensbury Railway Tunnel.

Use the arrows to navigate the album. The images below are taken from the same set.


Strines / Ovenden Beck Aqueduct. Strines cutting used to run to a depth of approx 59ft beneath where I was stood to take the picture.

Queensbury Tunnel Southern Portal

The southern portal of Queensbury Tunnel after it had been drained to allow engineers to asses the damage inside. The entrance rocks are what remains of Strines Cutting.

This is what the entrance to Queensbury Tunnel normally looks like.

Queensbury Tunnel Northern Portal

The tunnels northern portal.

Taken on the former Queensbury - Thornton - Keighley trackbed looking towards the former site of Queensbury Station. Opened in 1879 the station was triangular in shape, when opened being one of only 4 shaped that way in England. The station had connections with Bradford, Halifax, Keighley and beyond. The station was 400ft lower than the town and closed to passengers in 1955, and goods, excursion traffic in 1963, other than trackbed nothing of the station now remains.

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