Derby

'World's oldest railway tunnel' awarded protected status

Fritchley Tunnel Image copyright English Heritage
Image caption Fritchley Tunnel was used as an air raid shelter during World War Two

What is believed to be the world's oldest railway tunnel - dating from 1793 - has been given protected status.

Fritchley Tunnel was built as part of the Butterley Gangroad, a horse-operated railway linking the Cromford Canal with quarries at Crich.

The Derbyshire tunnel has been scheduled as an ancient monument.

Crawshaw Woods Bridge, near Leeds, one of the earliest cast iron bridges still in situ over a working railway, has also been given protected status.

Fritchley, which was sealed up in the 1980s, was excavated by archaeologists in 2013.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Archaeologists used a digger to excavate the original course of the railway

It was engineered by Benjamin Outram, and was modernised in the 1840s to accommodate a narrow gauge railway.

The line continued to be used by steam engines until 1933.

'Victorian achievement'

Tony Calladine, from English Heritage, said Mr Outram was "an important figure who greatly influenced the development of railways in Derbyshire and across England".

"He was one of the first to recognise the potential of railways to provide a nationwide transport system which would bind the country together and the Butterley Gangroad was where he first developed the ideas which were soon adopted across Britain," he said.

Image copyright English Heritage
Image caption Crawshaw Woods Bridge was constructed by Stanningley Ironworks for the Leeds & Selby Railway, one of the pioneering lines in the early years of railway development

Crawshaw Woods Bridge was designed by Scottish engineer James Walker.

English Heritage said the bridge, which has been granted Grade II-listed status, was testament to one of the "Victorian's greatest achievements" - railways.

Spokesman Nick Bridgland said: "Railways gave the Industrial Revolution its impetus and staying power, transforming the lives of millions, so this bridge is a key reminder of a momentous period in our country's history."

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