Harecastle Tunnel

(Photos 1-7 © TheNewMendoza, photos 8 & 9 © Bill Blair)

In 1848, the North Staffordshire Railway drove a line between Tunstall and Kidsgrove, necessitating the construction of three tunnels at Harecastle. Activity of this nature was not new here - James Brindley engineered a 2,880-yard canal tunnel through Harecastle Hill which opened in 1777, five years after his death. Thomas Telford cut another one - 46 yards longer - during the 1820s. The two structures were operated in parallel until the roof of Brindley's bore succumbed to constant shaking by trains running above it; a partial collapse occurred in 1914.

Harecastle North was the shortest of the three railway tunnels at just 130 yards. This was opened out in 1966 to allow for electrification of the West Coast Main Line. The structure gauge of other two - Middle (180 yards) and South (1,766 yards) - was two tight to accommodate overhead line wires so a diversionary route was constructed through Bathpool Park; this itself included the new 243-yard Kidsgrove Tunnel.

Today, Harecastle South is flooded for much of its length.

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June 09

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