After Dunoon had finished. Pete from Dive task contacted me with in 10 days it was about september 1979. he still hadn't paid me what he owed but assured me he had it in hand. Pete had a new contract starting working in a canal at Kidsgrove, As canals are only 6 ft deep I questioned the job. It turns out that there was a tunnel at Kidsgrove called "Harecastle" there are two tunnels and we were to work on the one called "Telford". At this time running along the whole tunnel was a tow path that needed to be removed to enable it to be navigable. The path was made of old rail lines and had to be cut out with Oxy Arc equipment. There were two of us as a dive team and two labourers to help with boat handling an equiptment.
Northern end of the Harecastle Tunnel. The "Brindley" tunnel is on the right.
Kidsgrove to Tunstall, Staffordshire, England
53°4′27″N 2°14′11″WCoordinates: 53°4′27″N 2°14′11″W
OS grid reference
Trent and Mersey Canal
2,675 metres (2,926 yards)
Harecastle Tunnel is a canal tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal in Staffordshire between Kidsgrove and Tunstall. It comprises two separate and parallel tunnels described as "Brindley" and the later "Telford" after the engineers who constructed them. The tunnel was built to transport coal to heat the kilns in the Staffordshire Potteries. At 1.5 miles (2.4 km) it was once one of the longest canal tunnels in Britain.
Today only the Telford tunnel is navigable. The tunnel is only wide enough to carry traffic in one direction at a time and boats are sent through in groups, alternating northbound and southbound. Ventilation is handled by large fans at the south portal.
info via Wikipedia,
The tunnel now thanks to our efforts takes a narrow boat about 40 Minutes to pass through if you click the link you will get a sense of this journey in time lapse.
The job was working all through the winter, however due to the fact we pulled into the tunnel each night ( this was a night time operation) with a barge. Inside the tunnel it was quite warm. The water was black and the silt was about 4ft deep. We constructed a cofferdam which we could encapsulate each metal support. The metal supports were spaced about every 3ft, the hole length of the tunnel. Once we had the cofferdam in position we would air lift the silt out revealing the steel rail lines embedded into the floor of the canal. We then had to work up side down, head first this was the only way, due to the small size of the coffer dam, we then had to Oxy Arc cut the lines as close to the floor of the canal as possible.
An airlift pump, powered by compressed air, raises fluid by entraining gas to reduce its density. 1. Air supply. 2. Liquid supply. 3. Air inlet port. 4. Air supply line. 5. Air port. 6. Air outlet. 7. Fluid intake. 8. Riser tube. 9. Air liquid mixture. 10. Pump outlet. L: Liquid, usually wastewater. LL: Liquid level. V: Vessel G: Gravel or solids.
Oxy Arc Cutting
This works on the principle of placing an earth clamp from a generator on to the metal needing to be cut. Then a carbon rod with a hole down the centre is connect to the generator via a cable. when the arc is struck, Oxygen travels down the center hole and burns at a high temeprature melting the metal and blowing away the molten residue creating a cut , the cut is usually for salvage purposes as it is not a clean precise cut. The link below shows a diver using this equiptment.
We worked 6 nights a week, and traveled to the job from my home base as we were only 1 hour away from the job. We successfully removed the tow path so the tunnel became navigable for pleasure craft and is still in operation today.
I am happy and fulfilled, I have a property business and an online business. I have learnt to serve others ( as I hope I am doing now ) respect others for what they are trying to achieve no matter how big or small their ambition. I work on my attitude each day and look to help anyone I can on a daily basis.
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