Lutra went first and then we went to fill up with water as the weight would put us lower in the water. Apparently there are also some large water containers which can be used if a boat is too high. Soon it was our turn to go through. Richard was given a life jacket, high viz jacket and a hard hat as according to our pilot, Fred, he was important!
|What the skipper wore|
The first thing that Fred pointed out was that there are legging plates on the roof every 50 yards so that the leggers knew how far they were into the tunnel. The roof is so jagged in places that we wondered how many broken legs and ankles must have occurred whilst legging. The tunnel was bored through different types of rock – the millstone grit is very hard and can still be seen with alluvial stripes but the other rock is shale which had to be bricked over as it is soft. To clear the way one man would hold a chisel and two men would hit it in turn - the man holding the chisel would then turn it after each blow. The space they created was then filled with gun powder and ignited. There were approximately 3,500 navvies working on the tunnel living in three villages – one at each end and one in the middle.
There have been a few rock falls over the years and these have been sprayed with concrete. In places Richard had to go slowly as it was extremely narrow and the roof very low – in fact he hit his head about 20 times throughout the trip, just as well he had a hard hat on! The train tunnel runs parallel with the canal and at times you can hear a train rumbling past. Sometimes you can see a mist which happens when pressure in front of the train and a vacuum behind it occurs which then goes down the canal service tunnel and causes it!
We thought there might be a ghost but the only story that Fred came up with was that a man had fallen off the back of his boat in 1913 and drowned. The tunnel was drained so his body could be recovered however they also found the body of a woman with her throat cut at the same time!
|The Diggle flight|
|The Diggle flight|
Eastern Portal of the Standedge Tunnel to Wool Road Moorings4.30 miles