Winter 2016/17

It's easy to take for granted the awesome endeavours of 19th Century railway pioneers which thread us through, around or over the nation's natural barriers. It was an age of speculative adventure, built on innovation, will power and elbow grease.

But many magnificent creations were abandoned during the industrial vandalism of the Fifties and Sixties. Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age celebrates some of them.
Operating Notices

Forgotten Relics' winter update goes back to the early days of Robert Stephenson's London & Birmingham Railway when trains were hauled out of Euston on a continuous rope.

Doing all the work was a pair of stationary engines, hosted in the Camden vaults which, until recently, lay flooded beneath the West Coast Main Line. Network Rail has now pumped them out - together with 600 tonnes of silt - as part of its examination regime. The vaults have a fabulous story to tell and, unsurprisingly, locals are keen on putting them to future use as a community space.

Hewenden Viaduct is one of those structures that sits very comfortably in its glorious West Yorkshire landscape, although its existence is really a function of Bradford Corporation, not the Great Northern Railway. The proposed route for its Thornton to Keighley extension line was up the west side of a reservoir but this brought with it the threat of pollution to a stream which fed one of the city's reservoirs. Hence the viaduct was built as part of a diversion, at great personal cost to labourer William Stotton.

Users of the Brampton Valley Way in Northamptonshire have enjoyed the filthy delights of Kelmarsh Tunnel for more than 20 years. But few of them will have visited - or even been aware of - the older, disused bore next door. Venture inside and the choice of tunnel for the footpath becomes clear: this one - which hosted the Down line from 1879 - demanded many repair interventions throughout its operational period, as evidenced by the replacement brickwork across the crown for much of its length.

K-Burn has found Balmossie Viaduct lurking in the trees. This attractive seven-archer - grand enough to warrant a Grade A listing - was the big-ticket feature on the Dundee & Forfar (Direct) Railway, a route which did exactly what it said on the tin. Construction was adversely impacted by one of the contractors going out of business, thus a 17-mile line through relatively easy terrain took four years to complete.

At the other end of the grandeur scale is Calke Park Tunnel, passing beneath the carriage drive to the similarly-named abbey. This diminutively structure formed part of the historic Ticknall Tramway which served a collection of brickyards and lime quarries until 1915. The tunnel is now open to the public as part of a footpath. No torch is necessary as three square holes in the roof let plenty of light in, but tall folk benefit from a hardhat.

Before you venture off to explore the new content, here's a quick plug for our latest calendar which is now available to buy. All the ordering details can be found via the 2017 calendar link in the sidebar. Two of this month's featured structures make appearances inside; on the cover is Tidenham Tunnel in deepest Gloucestershire. It's one of our favourites; indeed this edition of the calendar is entirely self-indulgent!

New this time
Hewenden Viaduct
Kelmarsh Down Tunnel
as well as...
Forgotten for 172 years, Stephenson's subterranean engine rooms emerge from floodwaters beneath the WCML.
Calke Park Tunnel
Balmossie Viaduct
You can reach pages about these relics by clicking on their name. Across the site, new content is identified by a symbol whilst updated pages have a .
Main site areas
The site has stories about some of our more notable railway relics, with a hike through their history and reminiscences from those who worked there. You'll also find galleries showing dozens of bridges, viaducts, tunnels, earthworks, stations and junctions.
Online coverage of our disused network.
Bridges & viaducts
Great structures spanning a gap.
Tunnels & earthworks
Holes blasted
through hills.
Stations & junctions
Destinations torn from the timetable.

All the site areas are available via links in the tab bar and right hand column.

We add more structures on a seaonal basis. We hope you enjoy your visit and come back to see more Forgotten Relics soon.

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