I took a look at a little known about railway tunnel in the higher climes of Nidderdale in Yorkshire recently. There is next to nothing documented about Goyden Pot tunnel on the internet. As far as I know these will be the first photos taken inside the tunnel.
Goyden Pot tunnel was built on the Nidd Valley railway in 1921 when construction of Scar House reservoir started. I had intended to take a few shots of the remaining line, but as luck would have it the rain started. Sods law considering we've just had one of the worst early Summer droughts in history. So I'll pad the report out with a few archive shots of the line instead
Scar House Reservoir
The Nidd Valley Light Railway started life as a 3ft gauge contractor's railway connecting Pateley Bridge with Angram Reservoir constructed as part of the Bradford Corporation Waterworks project. It was taken over by Bradford Corporation and re-laid to standard gauge track, the line opened in 1907. It's worth taking a look at Scar House reservoir on it's own, at one time a self sufficient contractors village was built at the side of the dam. During construction of the reservoir an entire village was constructed just below the dam to house the workforce. The population reached 2,000 and the village had all the amenities they might need. There were 10 large hostels for workmen, 34 semidetached bungalows, 28 houses in 5 blocks and several other buildings. The concrete bases of these buildings are still evident today.
The railway’s primary purpose was to carry goods, materials and labour to construction sites high in the Nidd valley, where two large reservoirs were built at Angram (1904-1919) and Scar House (1921-1936)
Passenger trains also ran for the workmen and their families into Pateley Bridge.
The line was abandoned in 1936 when the reservoirs were complete, the whole track was dismantled by 1937. The line was steeply graded and curved, four locomotives were needed to haul the trains up the summit to Scar House. The line was constructed under the terms of a pre-existing Light Railway Order of 1901, this meant that Bradford Corporation were obliged to operate a public passenger service between Pateley Bridge and Lofthouse. This was the only corporation operated passenger light railway in the country.
Moving on 70 years or so and Mother nature has started to reclaim the North West Portal of Goyden Pot tunnel. The tunnel portals themselves are rather unique in being of a concrete construction, there aren't many railway tunnels like this in the U.K. The tunnel was cut through rock to help ease a very sharp, and steeply curved section of track. The track split in two at this point, the arduous climb beyond Lofthouse included this tunnel for uphill trains only, downhill trains avoided it by a passing loop.
Behold the unknown!
This is the first view you get of the 180 yard (540 feet) long tunnel behind the blocked off portal, the tunnel itself is a real mix of hotchpotch construction. Concrete linings have been poured in sections on top of bare rock, a series of wooden props, and old rails have been embedded in the concrete. This looks to have been attempt to prevent loose rock from falling in the tunnel. The worrying looking pile of rocks in the distance shows some of these have collapsed over the years. The tunnel itself is relatively dry except for a few drips in places, there are no air shafts, or refuges constructed in the tunnel.
This is the view looking up to the tunnel roof supporting props. The concrete sections are about 15-20 ft long, I'm not really sure why they haven't built a concrete lining down the whole length of tunnel in this area, the second half of the tunnel is all concrete lined. The far support on the left is actually narrow gauge railway track, the line originally started out as a 3ft narrow gauge railway, but it was relaid as standard gauge track in 1907. The old narrow gauge track, and sleepers were salvaged, and can be seen supporting various areas throughout the tunnel.
From this view it's pretty evident to see just how steep the climb, and curve of this tunnel is, no wonder four engines were needed to get the trains up here. The tunnel is relatively dry, and in good condition at this point. Sections of patched brickwork has been used to build up the uneven rockface.
Here is another roof prop support section, four lengths of narrow gauge track have been embedded in the concrete, old wooden sleepers, and logs make for a rather flimsy looking structure.
This is not the end
It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning!
Well actually Goyden Pot isn't a very long tunnel, but you can't beat a good Churchillian quote now and again. What strikes me about this tunnel is how confined and narrow it feels for a standard gauge track, there certainly isn't much clearance between train and tunnel.
The tunnel is all concrete lined in the last section, bigger areas of brickwork have been patched between the bare rock. I'm also surprised the railway went to the trouble, and cost of building this tunnel for 15 years service. The original curvature, and grade of the track must have been very problematic for them to do so.
Nothing of great merit on the next two shots really, just a bit of back light on this one to try do something a bit arty.
And everyone seems to do one of these shots when underground. My co explorer wearing very long socks makes for a fine silhouette of a man
On first glance this looked an unusual pattern on the tunnel floor created by drips from the roof.
It wasn't until you stood on it that you realised it was solid. Lime calcites have dripped into the tunnel to create this very delicate looking pattern. It may have looked delicate, but no amount of scuffing it with your foot made any impact.
It always feels a little bit strange stood on the wrong side of a tunnel portal.
This is the view of the South portal from inside the tunnel, occasionally we could here some passing hill walkers go by oblivious to us being down here.
Close up detail of the South portal.
I'm not sure what the stack of railway sleepers are doing here, they certainly weren't part of the original line abandoned way back in 1936.
Map layout of the tunnel and tunnel avoiding line.
Archive shot of the South portal, you can see the course of the original line heading straight on. The setting out of the 180 yard long tunnel was made difficult owing to the trees on the hill above. The tunnel eased the original curve and was used by trains climbing uphill, trains ascending down the valley usually bypassed the tunnel. The original curved track had been difficult for heavy trains, especially when carrying lengthy timber. From Lofthouse to Scar House reservoir the gradients ranged between 1 in 40 and 1 in 70.
And an archive 1928 shot of one of the passenger trains in service further down the valley.
Ex GWR railcar 'Hill makes the descent from Ramsgill approaching Wath station.
All in all Goyden Pot is a nice little jolly, the area is very scenic and well worth a visit (if it's not raining)
Some more info on this little line can be seen here
The building of Scar House reservoir
And one of the locos that worked the line is currently undergoing restoration work here