Oct 2021 – Queensbury Tunnel Update

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(Bob Prigg)

Further comment from Jeff Vinter:

It sounds as if the possibility of a trail going through the tunnel has not been prevented altogether, although that will depend on the headroom provided underneath the strengthened area.  I would need to speak to Graeme Bickerdike to confirm, but I believe that earlier plans included plugging both ends with concrete, which would have prevented future inspections – which are necessary for ongoing maintenance and safety purposes.

Further comment from Mark Jones:

I guess the work on the tunnel is necessary and as Jeff states below does not preclude the possibility of a trail. Anyone who has viewed Queensbury Tunnel (at either portal or inside) would be in no doubt that a great deal of work would be required to make it usable; but of course we absolutely support the campaign for its reopening.

I do, however, feel that some of what is written about Queensbury is a touch misleading – apart from a few hundred yards to the south of the west portal there is no possibility of the trackbed into Halifax being reused as the great majority of it is built over and in private or commercial hands – any cycleway into the town centre would have to be some distance to the east of the former railway.

In my view, the priority should be the route from Queensbury north towards Oakworth (Bronte Country) and Keighley. Two sections are open already, from Cullingworth to Wilsden and from Queensbury to Thornton, including three superb viaducts at Cullingworth, Hewenden and Thornton. To link these two sections together, to start creating an absolutely top draw trail in lovely countryside with stunning views, Well Heads Tunnel needs reopening – its about 500 yards in length, locked at one end and blocked with earth at the other (as was Devonshire Tunnel in Bath).

I am not sure why we never hear of any stories around Well Heads these days.

Further comment from Jeff Vinter:

Railway Paths Ltd owns Cullingworth, Hewenden and Thornton Viaducts, and enabled Sustrans (probably with LA support) to install the cycle trail which now exists over them.  The long term aim is to create a trail into Keighley, although I haven’t heard much recently from the local group which is promoting this; with, incidentally, support from the local authority.  That may be due to the pandemic and lockdowns, of course, which have disrupted so much.

Re Queensbury Tunnel, it is well known that the trackbed at one end has been built over, but the thought which – if you like – ‘propels’ or ‘informs’ the support for putting a trail through it concerns how very steep the local roads and lanes can be.  Having cycled through this area on said roads with all my fellow RPL directors and many RPL staff members, I can attest that they are very ‘cyclist-unfriendly’.  Their pothole quotient exceeds that of local lanes here in Devon!  Then, of course, there are the other issues, e.g. active travel, conservation and inspection.  I would need to check the facts, but I believe that, at one stage, the plan for Queensbury was install concrete plugs at each end – in which case, how could anyone ever again inspect the inside of the structure?  Be there properties or fields up above, sink holes are bad news, whether part of a house or a very expensive prize bull disappears into the hole!