Architect warns of tunnel’s collapse

sp91519 Riddings Tunnel Fear. Chris Froggatt in front of the collapsing tunnel site.
sp91519 Riddings Tunnel Fear. Chris Froggatt in front of the collapsing tunnel site.

An EXPERIENCED architect believes the 320-year-old Butterley Tunnel is at risk of ‘imploding’ if heavy vehicles keep passing over it.

The historic brick-lined tunnel which houses part of the 14 and a half mile Cromford Canal, runs underneath a frequently used access road to Butterley Park Farm in Golden Valley.

Now award winning architect, Chris Frogggatt, 40, from Heage, says unless the farm, owned by firm HW Martin, lessens the amount of traffic crossing over the structure, it is only a matter if time before it caves in.

Mr Froggatt, a passionate local historian who has run his own firm, Architectural Building Design, for 12 years, said: “The trouble is, no one knows a lot about these tunnels.

“Firstly my concern was that these tunnels, that are just brick lined, engineers 320 years ago did not use the same techniques we do now.

“I just think it would be a crying shame for a tractor driver to go across this one day and be killed if it collapses. I’m simply voicing my concern before this happens”

Buterley tunnel runs directly underneath Coach Road in Golden Valley.

A spokesperson for British Waterways, which owns the tunnel and which carries out infrequent checks on the structure, said there is no danger of it collapsing as it lies several feet beneath the road.

However Mr Froggatt claims to know the area around Coach Road well, beause in 2008 he designed the neighbouring Golden Valley Caravan Park.

Part of the planning agreement for that site with Amber Valley Borough Council was that no ‘additional loadings’ were placed on the aging tunnel, built by the Butterley Company in 1794.

The access road to the holiday spot had to be relocated as a result, so caravans and construction vehicles did not pass over it.

Mr Froggatt says heavy farm vehicles cross the structure into Butterley Park Farm almost every hour at present.

He has also taken photographs of materials being stockpiled on land directly above the tunnel, which he believes could create a further hazard.

Mr Froggatt believes the vehicles could easily take an alternative route into the site and is calling on the farm owners to do so.

However this week a spokesperson from HW Martin Farms, which is planning to extend its operation there, said it would continue to use the Coach Road as an access road on the advice of British Waterways.