April 2014

It's easy to take for granted the awesome endeavours of 19th Century railway pioneers which thread us through, around or over the nation's natural barriers. It was an age of speculative adventure, built on innovation, will power and elbow grease.

But many magnificent creations were abandoned during the industrial vandalism of the Fifties and Sixties. Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age celebrates some of them.
Operating Notices

Welcome to the April update of Forgotten Relics.

We return to a record breaker this month: the 667-yard Torpantau Tunnel which plots a curved course through the magnificent Brecon Beacons. Hosting summit level on the Breakneck & Murder Railway - otherwise known as the Brecon & Merthyr - it was the highest tunnel on the UK network until claimed by closure in 1964.

Auchendinny Tunnel is, in contrast, acutely workaday. It pushed the Penicuik Railway through a rocky spur on the bank of the River North Esk. Today its fine curves host a popular cycle path but former railway furniture - substantial insulated brackets for the telegraph wires - doff their caps to the bore's intended role.

Parkhead Viaduct is slowly sinking. Originally built in timber due to poor ground conditions, it was later encased in brick to make it more stable. However its decline continued such that track level ended up around three feet higher than the top of its parapets. The brickwork is tied together by an assortment of plates and bars but that hasn’t prevented one spandrel from bulging more than any I have ever seen.

Facing a more upright future is the old signal box at Bendor Crossing on the NER’s former Cornhill branch. Decaying until recently, the neat little structure has now been transformed into a comfy dwelling. It sits very happily in the Northumberland landscape.

Queensbury Tunnel could yet be edited from the landscape of West Yorkshire, depending on which way the Highways Agency choose to go with its remedial works. Back in 1878, a few months before its opening, an intrepid reporter put his best foot forward to record the goings-on at each of its shafts. The result was a two-part story, providing a unique insight into the trials and tribulations of Victorian tunnel construction.

New this month
Parkhead Viaduct
Torpantau Tunnel
as well as...
As the construction of Queensbury Tunnel drew to its conclusion, a writer walked over it to describe the ongoing activity.
Auchendinny Tunnel
Bendor signal box
You can reach pages about these relics by clicking on their name. Across the site, new content is identified by a symbol whilst updated pages have a .
Main site areas
The site has stories about some of our more notable railway relics, with a hike through their history and reminiscences from those who worked there. You'll also find galleries showing dozens of bridges, viaducts, tunnels, earthworks, stations and junctions.
Online coverage of our disused network.
Bridges & viaducts
Great structures spanning a gap.
Tunnels & earthworks
Holes blasted
through hills.
Stations & junctions
Destinations torn from the timetable.

All the site areas are available via links in the tab bar and right hand column.

We'll add more relics over the coming months. We hope you enjoy your visit and come back to see more Forgotten Relics soon.

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