Thursday, 14 March 2019

Mega Tunnels 3 - Sapperton


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3. Sapperton Tunnel

The third place is occupied by another abandoned tunnel, this time located on the summit pound of the Thames and Severn Canal.



This 3,817yard tunnel was built 15 feet wide and 15 feet high to accommodate the Severn Trows, which were the target market for this connection between the rivers Severn and Thames.



It was completed in 1789 after five years of construction and was one year over schedule, not a bad result by tunnel building standards of the day. As so often happened, the original contractor only managed to complete one third before he hit financial problems and the remaining work passed to others. In the end the tunnel Included 25 intermediate shafts the deepest of which was 244 ft.


The Sapperton Tunnel held the record as the longest from 1789 till 1811, when it was eclipsed by the completion of the Standedge in the north.




With declining trade the tunnel was officially closed in 1910, but remained passable till 1966 when roof falls in areas passing through the unstable Fullers Earth blocked it as a through route.




Today occasional trips are made as far as the roof fall and plans are well advanced to reopen the tunnel as part of the ongoing Cotswold Canal restoration project.

All photos sourced from the internet - I am not brave enough to go inside!

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