Tyne and Wear HER(5040): Elswick, Quarry Tunnel - Details
Elswick, Quarry Tunnel
This tunnel was discovered during development in 1996. The roof of the tunnel was found just below the surface. The tunnel had been built in a cutting and then covered with loose rubble fill. It was constructed of roughly dressed sandstone blocks bonded with white lime mortar. The tunnel floor, after the removal of 10cm depth of silt, consisted of a trackway of large finely dressed sandstone blocks with a channel cut into them, laid in parallel with cobbles in between. The trackway blocks on the south side of the tunnel were half the length of those on the north side, with a slightly narrower channel and not as finely dressed. Access to the tunnel was made through a collapse in the roof. There was a clear 30 metres stretch to the south-west before the tunnel was blocked by loose clinker at a point corresponding with Elswick Row. About 2 metres before this point, what had up to this point been a very slight incline, fell steeply away (300 metres over 2.5 metres). The tunnel was of remarkably fine construction and was surprisingly free of coal or coal dust which would have been expected had this been a wagonway associated with coal extraction. The absence of rails would indicate an early date. It is considered to be related to the continued quarrying of stone from the large nearby quarry (HER 4095) in the mid 19th century. Houses were being built in the immediate area of the quarry workings, making transport of the stone to the main road difficult. The construction of the tunnel by a quarry company would explain the sole use of stone in the construction of the tunnel and in the "rutway" along which animals drew carts from the quarry faces to the surface near the road.
<< HER 5040 >> S. MacPherson, 1996, Tyne and Wear Museums,Tunnel at Westgate Road/Elswick Row Pers comm. I. Ayris, 1996, Letter to Mr M. Morrisey, Hall & Tawse -Historic Environment Record