|Queensbury. Crumbling Yorkshire rail tunnel could form part of new cycle route|
Abandoned Queensbury tunnel is in Victorian Society’s list of most endangered buildingshttps://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/sep/13/crumbling-yorkshire-queensbury-tunnel-could-form-part-of-new-cycle-route
An abandoned and flooded Victorian railway tunnel hundreds of feet under the Pennines could be restored for use by cyclists and tourists but instead faces being filled with concrete and allowed to collapse.
The Victorian Society on Friday threw its weight behind a campaign to bring new life to the 1.4-mile (2.3km) Queensbury tunnel.
The charity listed the tunnel in its annual top 10 of the most endangered Victorian and Edwardian buildings, which also includes a crumbling country mansion in Norfolk, an architecturally unusual church in Warrington and an Arts and Crafts pub in Croydon.
The railway tunnel was built by the Great Northern Railway for its line between Halifax and Keighley and was the longest tunnel on the company’s network when it opened in 1878.
Passenger and freight services on the line were stopped in the 1950s and it is currently abandoned and flooded.
Campaigners want the tunnel to be restored as a cycle path, the centrepiece of a new network linking Halifax and Bradford. The Department for Transport wants to fill in sections of the tunnel with concrete and leave it to collapse.
The society said the tunnel symbolised “the irreplaceable infrastructure legacy left to us by the Victorians”.
Christopher Costelloe, the society’s director, said the tunnel “could be the heart of a new transport revolution, bringing cyclists and tourists to this part of Yorkshire. If it is filled in, this irreplaceable asset will be lost for ever.”
He pointed to the “triumphant success” of the Two Tunnels cycleway in Bath, a 13-mile loop for cyclists and walkers that includes the mile-long Combe Down tunnel.
“There is no reason why Yorkshire, now the beating heart of British cycling, couldn’t do the same,” Costelloe said.
The hope is the list, in its 12th year, will inspire the public to get more involved in campaigns to save the nation’s heritage. Griff Rhys Jones, the president of the Victorian Society, said it was both “inspiring and saddening” to see the top 10.
“Who would have thought that a call to arms would reveal such a wealth of distinguished and absorbing architecture? From libraries to pubs to gorgeous theatres, these are gems. We are not looking at the second rate here. We are looking at real historical monuments,” he said.
The country mansion on the list is a grade I-listed gothic pile called Shadwell Court in Norfolk. It was built in 1715 but extended and remodelled out of all recognition in the 19th century.
It has been empty since the mid-1990s and is owned by a member of the Dubai ruling family, the society said.
Costelloe said: “Shadwell Court’s owner can easily afford to look after this important building properly. This major country house has been neglected for far too long and it will be a scandal if it isn’t put right soon.”
The former church of St Luke in Warrington was declared redundant 30 years ago and has been used as builders’ storage. Inside is one of only three examples of churches built by one of the period’s greatest architects, George Frederick Bodley, with a double nave under a single roof.
“It is extremely unorthodox and highly inventive, and the result is remarkable,” the society said.
The former Leslie Arms pub in Croydon is an example of a wider problem, Costelloe said, with Victorian pubs closing all over the UK. “This is a building of great quality where continued pub use should be viable. The right owner is needed,” he said.
Also on the list is Chatterley Whitfield colliery, a disused coalmine on the outskirts of Chell in Staffordshire; Everton Library, one of the earliest public libraries in Liverpool; Hulme Hippodrome in Manchester; Cowbridge school in south Wales; the Pelican Works in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter; and the Corn Exchange and former town hall in Swindon’s old quarter.