Bramhope Tunnel, West Yorkshire


Bramhope Tunnel – North Eastern Railway
1910s
Publisher: The Alphalsa Publishing Co., Ltd., 284, Scrutton St, London

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The Bramhope Tunnel is a railway tunnel 2.138 miles (3,745 Yards) long built for the Leeds and Thirsk Railway, the Leeds Northern Railway and the East and West Yorkshire Junction Railway, which together later became the North Eastern Railway. 1845-49 It was constructed on the Harrogate Line, carrying rural and commuter passengers between Horsforth and Weeton in West Yorkshire, England. It is notable for its length, for its crenellated north portal, which is Grade II listed, and for the deaths of 24 men during its construction, commemorated in Otley churchyard with a castellated replica of the north portal.

It was constructed by Thomas Grainger, engineer and James Bray, overseer, who set up two sighting towers and then twenty shafts along the line of the tunnel. Men dug horizontally from these shafts until the diggings joined up in 1848. Thousands of navvies lived locally in bothies with their families, and dug in dangerous and wet conditions to facilitate the grand opening in 1849.
Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History

The foundation stone was laid at Shaft 1 in July 1846, once a shaft was finished teams of miners were lowered down to create header tunnels, smaller 8ft x 8ft tunnels shored up by beams and joined up to make a complete mini version of the tunnel. This ensured the line was true and made communication easier. Behind the miners, labourers laid a line of temporary rails for spoil to be removed. Once the headers were complete the excavation was worked in lengths of 12ft, the excavators would move to the opposing side of the shaft and begin digging there while a team of labourers and bricklayers would take their place and begin building the tunnel walls. On Bramhope tunnel there was a total of 22 teams working at any one time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Each end of the tunnel received very different treatment, the Gothic north portal was given a castellated finish (now grade II listed) containing rooms used by railway staff. The south entrance is very plain by comparison, a sandstone horseshoe-shaped arch below a cornice and a parapet. The tunnel was completed November 27th, 1848 and the first train went through it May 31st, Leeds and Thirsk railway officials pulled by Bray’s locomotive Stephenson.
The Secret Library

Wilson Worsdell’s Class R (LNER D20) was introduced on the North Eastern Railway (NER) in 1899. It proved to be an extremely capable locomotive, but by 1907 there was a need locomotives of greater power to handle the increasing train loads. The NER already had a number of more powerful designs, but these were better suited to more onerous duties. The larger Class S1 (LNER B14) engines were not entirely successful. So Wilson Worsdell’s choice was between building more of his Class V (LNER C6) Atlantics, or designing a larger version of the successful D20. The C6 had not been an unqualified success, so he chose the modify the D20. The new design, NER Class R1 (LNER D21) attempted to combine the wheels and cylinders of the D20 with a larger boiler based on the C6’s boiler. In order to use the larger boiler, the D20 boiler was extended by 2ft at the rear. The boiler pressure was also increased to 225psi, and the grate area was increased from 20 to 27sq.ft. The final locomotive had a high adhesive weight of almost 21 tons, reflecting its intended use on the heaviest expresses, rather than the high speed light trains.

The D21s definitely looked impressive with their large boilers, but they turned out to be not quite as good as either the D20s or the C6s. Hence only one batch was built in 1908-9 at Darlington.
The London & North Eastern Railway Encyclopedia