View Full Version : The Bramhope Tunnel, nr Leeds, Yorks May '09

25-05-2009, 08:59 PM
290 feet below the ground, a tunnel is cut through the rock. It's a long tunnel, at 2 miles, 243 yards long, and is still used every day by the trains that travel between Leeds and Thirsk, Yorkshire. It's called the Bramhope tunnel, and is a few miles outside Leeds. It's particularly identifiable by its northern portal.
A first view through the trees.

The turrets were once lived in by employees of the railway.

Most of the towers have been bricked up. However a part is still accessible.

In the first year of construction, 1845, five men were killed. By the completion of the tunnel in 1849 23 men are reported to have been killed. It is likely that this number could be higher.
The northern portal.

Could this bearded fellow be William Rhodes,a local gentleman whos land the tunnel goes through? One theory is to appease him, the structure was built like a folly, and his head was carved above the 25 metre portal.

Nowadays, tunnels are dug with vertical boring machines. The Jubilee Line extension, (at the time the largest engineering project in Europe) in London was dug by two of these named Sharon and Tracy using laser guided technology. Here at Bramhope three sighting towers were planned, although only two were built. Only one survives today, bricked up. In this field a shanty town grew up, at its peak housing 2300+ men and 400 horses.

Twenty shafts were sunk into the rock which men were lowered by bucket to work in the tunnel by torchlight on a number of faces at the same time. Only four survive today, as ventilation shafts. Three of the four are open. As they are boring I have designed a postcard of them. Perhaps you could send it to someone who you don't like?* (Thanks to Chris at work for his photoshop help)

Above the tunnel, is evidence of the spoil from the tunnel. This part has sunken into the ground. Could it possibly a forgotten construction shaft?

The often overlooked southern portal, in classical styling. Mercury, the Roman messenger of the Gods is carved on the keystone.

In Otley is the navvies monument to the men who lost their life in the construction due to rockfall, flooding, subsidence and accidental death.

A sobering inscription to the unfortunate men.

Two trains ( the front one is an 8B mixed traffic locomotive, in black for British Railways, cagoule wearers) steam north during the 1950's. Hats off to a man on Flickr who has great pictures of these sorts of things.

*Please don't send me the postcard.

26-05-2009, 12:16 AM
great summary matey, very informative..

(love the postcard shot!)

26-05-2009, 07:50 AM
Great stuff mate, I love slipping and sliding around up there.

Never seen that other tower though, good one.

26-05-2009, 09:49 AM
That tunnel looks 'very grand':w00t Good report:thumb

26-05-2009, 10:17 AM
Brilliant Rich. That's got to be the best portal in the world? Definitely my fave. I always get funny looks when I'm craning my head to get a glimpse of it while on the train to the Great Yorkshire Show.

26-05-2009, 04:36 PM
Nice history (and postcard!) lovely bit of history. :thumb

27-05-2009, 11:14 AM
I am actually going to send that postcard to a mate in Bramhope.

27-05-2009, 11:23 AM
Excellent! Post up a picture of the printed off one with a stamp on!

27-05-2009, 12:56 PM
Great report, what a fantastic portal. :thumb

29-06-2009, 08:12 PM
An excellent set of pix - thank you. Those airshafts might be boring now, but the wire guards were only put on when Railtrack took over in the 1980s. Before that they were accessible for viewing, and at 209ft and 245 ft deep for the 2nd and 3rd repsectively, each at a cross section of 30ft x 40ft, the sight down them was fantastic. As kids we used to play on the shortest walled (2nd) one most, before it was capped in the early 1970s. Stone lined for about 60ft, then brick, with all sorts of wonderfully coloured mineral deposits oozing out and down. Thare are two separate keystoned portals for the tunnel at the bottom of each chamber. Some harmless junoir physics gravity experiments carried out over the edge over the included bags of flour, eggs, balloons full of water and of course fireworks (remember 'aeroplanes'?).

29-06-2009, 08:16 PM
And of course until 1968 they used to belch steam out every time a train passed. Strange sight to be walking in the woods and suddenly hear a deep roar then see white clouds issuing from the tops of the walls....
By the way, has anyone found that 45 degree shaft that's supposed to connect the Woodhead New (electric) tunnel with a shaft of one of the old (single bore) tracks?

29-06-2009, 08:21 PM
Really nice report and pics.
Love the postcard.

I wanna live in a turrrreeeetttttt!:w00t

29-06-2009, 08:30 PM
Really nice report and pics.
Love the postcard.

I wanna live in a turrrreeeetttttt!:w00t

It's a shame that that turret smells of piss. It's a great location though.

29-06-2009, 11:05 PM
great report and very interesting stuff - well summarised story - like this stuff when done like that

30-06-2009, 11:39 AM
Very interesting rich and what a great place to visit:thumb