Confusion over Norwood
I REALLY ENJOYED the article on Norwood Tunnel ( CB, Nov 16). It is very interesting to see how things have changed in 20 years.
I remember two family friends ( Fran Green and Ralph Durham) visiting my father on their way home from a walk up the Chesterfield Canal to view the restoration works. They arrived at Norwood Tunnel’s Eastern Portal at Kiveton when the portal was open for inspection.
While chatting with the workman, the engineer appeared from inspecting the tunnel. Ralph and Fran asked how far they had gotten and the reply was “all the way”. They had made it all the way to the Western Portal. The engineer said they had lain down in the boat to squeeze under the roof. When asked what damage the M1 had caused, the reply was “nothing visible” Previous thoughts were that the M1 had cut through Norwood, leaving it in two sections.
As Norwood is lying at a shallow depth, my father had hoped if things went right regarding land owner permission and funding, that restoration of the tunnel would be possible from above, the same way it was built. Over the last 20 years the worst parts of the tunnel have deteriorated more, but could still be restored; subject to funding and the relevant permissions.
MICHAEL WHITE, via email Rod Auton from the Chesterfield Canal Trust says:
“I’m afraid this is not correct.
“The tunnel is accessible by boat for about 450 metres before reaching a blockage of rubble and silt.
“Apparently, in the past, a British Waterways guy scrambled over this for a few metres before reaching the collapse of 18 October 1907. This is less than 500 metres in. The tunnel was 2,880 yards (2,633 metres) long.
“A report from 2008 states that ‘The Structural Perspectives report indicates in addition to the many collapses, the tunnel is infilled at several locations along its length. The western portal is reportedly backfilled just beyond the bricked up entrance and also the length under the M1 was backfilled with fly ash and grouted as were many of the shafts’.
“Even if it were to be possible to restore the tunnel, we would not want so to do. One of the prime purposes of the restoration project is to bring economic activity, especially jobs, along its line. The proposed marina at Kiveton Waters will bring exactly such benefits to the area. If boats went in a tunnel, few people would even realise that the canal was there.”