Harecastle's Canal and Railway Tunnels
Allan C Baker & Mike G Fell
Lightmoor Publishing 2019 £25
This book traces the history of the two canal and three railway tunnels once owned by the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) that have been driven through Harecastle Hill in North Staffordshire, together with coal and ironstone mining which took place in the vicinity of the tunnels. Once vital transport arteries, only one of the tunnels remains in use today – Telford’s canal tunnel opened in 1827, through which tugs powered by electricity once operated. James Brindley’s earlier pioneering tunnel opened in 1775 was closed in 1918. This was once the longest transport tunnel in the world. The three railway tunnels were opened in 1848 after the NSR had acquired the Trent & Mersey Canal; two of them known as ‘south’ and ‘middle’ were taken out of use in 1966 following the diversion of the railway around Harecastle Hill as part of British Railways’ West Coast Main Line electrification scheme, on the route from Colwich via Stoke-on-Trent, Kidsgrove and Macclesfield to Manchester Piccadilly. The third ‘north’ tunnel was opened out as part of this scheme but a new railway tunnel had to be built just to the south of Kidsgrove; that and the railway diversion scheme are also dealt with in the book. The authors’ extensive research is presented here for the first time in this fascinating and well illustrated volume.