Sunday, 7 June 2009


During the building of the Whitby to Scarborough railway, the landlord of Raven Hall was a gentleman called W. H. Hammond. Not wanting the unsightly spectacle of a railway crossing his land, he insisted that a tunnel was cut to take the locomotives and their passengers below ground.

Work on an earlier tunnel was never finished. It came to a halt in 1876 because it was considered to be on the wrong alignment, making this the second attempt. W. H. Hammond died in 1885, which meant he just managed to hang on long enough to see his tunnel in operation.

Due to the geology of the landscape, the Whitby to Scarborough line was very expensive to build, the cost being estimated at £27,000 per mile. A huge amount in 1885. In the 1930s plans to blast the tunnel roof off, because trains failing to make the 1 in 39 gradient up to Ravenscar were becoming stranded in the darkness, never came to fruition.

Entry into the southern end of the tunnel requires scrambling down a steep bank and negotiating thick undergrowth and marshy ground. The entrance has been bricked up, although access can be obtained through a small door in the wall.

This is a video made from a series of photographs taken in the tunnel. The tight bend in the track can clearly be seen as the stonework curves off into darkness. The sound recording was made by placing stereo condenser microphones deep inside the structure as water filtered through the brick ceiling and fell to the earth below.

1 comment:

pete said...

Could W. Hammond be the proprietor of the jet shop at bottom of 199 steps, recently renamed Whammond