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VIDEO: Butterley Gangroad named as oldest railway tunnel in the world

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A record breaking relic built by Ripley’s Butterley Company has been named the oldest railway tunnel in the world by Guinness experts.

The 1793 built line, known as the Butterley Gangroad, was used to ferry limestone between quarries at Crich and Cromford Canal at Bullbridge via a horse drawn carriage .

Last year Derbyshire Archeological Society began a project to unblock the two-and-a-half mile route and laser map its length using £18,000 of Lottery money.

The findings have since been presented to Guinness, the adjudicating body on record breaking claims, and this week the original portion of the line - originally just 25 metres long - was confirmed as the world’s oldest railway tunnel by two years.

Manager of the Butterley Gangroad Project Trevor Griffin, 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, which has supported the project.”

Previously it was thought the oldest surviving railway tunnel was also in Derbyshire at Chapel Milton on the route of the Peak Forest Tramway, a similar early railway.

But detailed 3D maps made of the Butterley Gangroad revealed it to be its senior by two years.

Small steam locomotives replaced horses from around 1870 and it is believed that the chimney of the earliest steam powered contraptions had to be lowered each time so the train could make it through the small tunnel.

The gangroad has now been restored to its previously blocked state now the excavation is over.

Check out the video here created by Wessex Archeology, which worked to 3D map the interior of the original 1793 built part of the tunnel

 

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