A corner of yorkshire BLEA MOOR TUNNEL
The greatest obstacle standing in the way of the Midland Railway’s proposed Settle-Carlisle Line was the enormous hulk of Whernside, Yorkshire’s highest summit. The solution was to curve the line on a north-north-east course from nearby Ribblehead Viaduct and excavate the 1½-mile-long Blea Moor Tunnel.
It was dug by hundreds of navvies living in the same shanty towns as those working on the viaduct and which formed the backdrop to the ITV drama Jericho. On the moor above, steam engines were used to haul the spoil up vertical shafts. Some spoil heaps are still evident today, as is the course of a tramway constructed to move bricks for the tunnel lining. Work took from 1870 to 1874 to complete, but numerous workers died in rockfalls and in 1870 others drowned after rain flooded the cuttings. Several computer train simulators are now available to allow enthusiasts to pass through Blea Moor Tunnel.