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Nine Killed. Eighteen Seriously InjuredBy David Macklin

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 19, 2014

By David Macklin

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Wild ducks, geese and swans patrol

the engineered waters of Bumble Hole,

where iron crafted bridges span

the ribbons of water made by man.

Explore the nearby portal

of Staffordshire blue bricks made

their indestructible credentials

have certainly made the grade.

This is the entrance to the Netherton Tunnel

which leads to a gothic underworld

a master builder's masterpiece

of subterranean transport unfurled.

When in the nineteenth century

it was finished and complete

it was a match for Telford's bridges

a marvellous engineering feat.

It was gas lit

and lit by electric lamp

but now is dank and spooky,

chilling, dark and damp.

Tiptoe along the towpath

and if you are feeling brave

paddle in the puddles

of this elongated cave.

Ventilation shafts

bring refreshing rays of light

which transform to dripping water

in the depths of night.

Stalactites cling to the ceiling,

condensation to the wall,

it is a bizarre feeling

and one which you'll recall.

Your new perception of light

you will soon have to suspend

as your destination's aperture

expands towards the tunnel's end.

When you reach the northern portal

it is my firm belief

that you will feel a sense of achievement

and breathe a sigh of relief.

NB The Netherton Tunnel was built between December 31, 1855 and August 20, 1858.

Its width is 27 feet and its length 9,081 feet.

The construction cost of £302,000 was well above the £238,000 estimate prior to the start of the project.

Sadly nine men died and 18 were seriously injured during the construction.

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