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Wessex Archaeology - Tunnel


This part of the Wessex  investigation was focused on the tunnel which allowed the Butterley Gangroad to pass below Chapel Street in Fritchley, connecting the Cromford Canal with the Warner and Hilts quarries. Laser scanning was employed to record the internal tunnel structure.


The recorded tunnel was 22.58m in length and 3.05m in height. The south end the tunnel had been blocked in two phases with a lower stone blocking and upper modern red brick blocking. The north end of the tunnel had been blocked with soil debris, making up a higher garden area to the north. The tunnel was constructed of coursed sandstone, with two distinct phases of development. The northern 15m of the tunnel appeared to have constructed

during phase 1, 1793.


Beyond this to the south was a second phase of construction, delineated by a vertical joint within the stonework and a‘kink’ in the tunnels alignment. This alteration in alignment dates to the construction of a new line in the 1840s. It is possible that the original tunnel exists for part of its southern length, and was possibly blocked (not visible) during the construction of the later line. Present at the joint within the stonework is what appears to be a brick repair or strengthening in the northeast wall of the tunnel. In addition, at this same point above the tunnel is a coal shed. It may be that the construction of the building above put added pressure on the join of the two phases of the tunnel, which in turn required additional strengthening with brick (see middle photograph below).


Holes within the walls of the tunnel, representing sockets of timber formers during the construction of the arch of the tunnel were also noted. All internal surfaces of the tunnel were covered with black soot, making further observations difficult.



Wessex Archaeology produced a short fly thru video clip travelling from the northern portal to the sealed up southern portal.



Please note. Following completion of this part of the project the Fritchley tunnel was resealed and the northern and southern portals are not visible and the interior of the tunnel is not accessible.

North portal of Fritchley tunnel exposed

Brick reinforcement of tunnel stone wall

Laser scanning of Fritchley tunnel north portal