Rhondda Tunnel

(Photos 1-5 © JohnA, photos 6-8 © The Strange Brothers,
photos 9-13 © Steve Power,
photos 16 & 17 © Ben Salter,
photo 14 © and by permission of Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries)

Engineered by S W Yockney, Rhondda is the longest disused tunnel in Wales at 3,443 yards. Today its portals are buried. Though single line through it, the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway became double track as it emerged into daylight.

Construction was carried out from both ends, taking five years to bore from June 1885 to 2nd July 1890. It features a single 58-foot ventilation shaft around 105 yards from its western end. It's almost 1,000 feet below ground at its deepest point.

Underground springs ensured that Rhondda was very wet in places; this was channelled away via a drainage system. Coal working caused the lining to bulge and a series of reinforcement ribs was erected in 1938. Eleven years later, an inspection found the tunnel to be in excellent condition except for two sections where distortion was severe. More ribs were installed.

Further deterioration resulted in the tunnel being closed 'temporarily' on safety grounds in 1968, though it never reopened - the cost of repairs being prohibitive.

Click on this icon for more of Steve's shots (TunnelsUK)
Click on this icon for more of Ben Salter's Rhondda shots (Flickr)
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You may be interested to know that 'GC' who, together with his friend 'IH', had etched his initials onto the 1¾ milepost (picture 3), recently contacted Forgotten Relics to recount their expedition into the tunnel. He didn't know the precise date until he saw it on the photograph - 26th May 1975. GC told many people about the coal workings but they all took it with a pinch of salt. Now he has proof.

Source

Much of this information comes from an article by Lee Holland for the Welsh Railways Archive.

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