Derbyshire rail tunnel named world’s oldest

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The Guinness World Book of Records has awarded a rail tunnel in Derbyshire, which was unearthed by archaeologists last year, the title of world’s oldest.

Located in Fritchley near Crich, the tunnel is thought to date back to around 1793 – at least two years younger than the previous record holder.

Archaeologists reopened the tunnel last year for the first time in over 30 years as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded Butterley Gangroad Project managed by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society.

After creating a virtual model of the tunnel, the team from Wessex Archaeology were able to prove that it was part of a short horse and gravity worked mineral railway dating back to 1793.

The line carried limestone down from quarries at Crich to the Cromford Canal at Bull Bridge until 1933.

During the 1850s the southern half of the tunnel was reconstructed when the railway was re-aligned but the northern half remains as built.

Another Derbyshire rail tunnel, this time at Chapel Milton on the route on the Peak Forest Tramway, had been thought to be the world’s oldest surviving tunnel.

Trevor Griffin, the manager of the Butterley Gangroad Project, said: “Its brilliant that we have gained a world record for this tunnel which had been lost and overlooked in the past.

“The success is a great credit to the many individuals, firms and organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund, who have supported the project.”

Photo courtesy of Forgotten Relics

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