Jump to content
WildBoyz

UK Butterley Tunnel, Cromford Canal (near Butterley) - October 2015

Recommended Posts

History

“No boat shall enter Butterley Tunnel at the east end except between the hours of five and six in the morning, one and two in the afternoon, and nine and ten at night, and no boat shall enter the west end thereof, except between the hours of one and two in the morning, nine and ten in the forenoon, and five and six at night, and every boat shall make its passage through the same with all possible dispatch and on no account exceed three hours after such entry. And if any person or persons having the care of any boat, shall offend in any of the particular aforesaid, he or they shall forfeit for every such offence: forty shillings and shall also turn back on meeting another boat in the said tunnel†(Extract from the Rules, Byelaws and Orders made by the Cromford Canal Company: 30th May 1804).

Butterley Tunnel was opened in 1794 and it runs for approximately one and three quarters of a mile, along the disused Cromford Canal. Although tools were much more basic in the late 1700s, than what we have available today, upon completion the tunnel was measured to be 2,966 yards (2712 metres) long, 9 foot (2.7 metres) wide at water level and 8 foot (2.4 metres) high from the water to soffit; although this depended on the water level after heavy rain. Much of the water flows from the 50 acre reservoir situated on the hill above the west side of the tunnel. There is no tow path inside Butterley Tunnel, so all narrow boats had to be powered through using the muscle power of the narrow boat’s crew. This is a process commonly known as ‘legging’. Consequently, a number of signs were displayed at either end of the tunnel, emphasising the use of the tunnel in only one direction at any one time. Any crew found to be disobeying these rules would receive a hefty fine.

In 1889, subsidence caused the tunnel to close for four years. The tunnel was eventually reopened after repairs in 1893, however, the long period of closure resulted in the loss of many customers to rapidly expanding railway companies. A second collapse, in 1900, due to mining related subsidence, caused partial damage and effectively split the tunnel into two sections, making it impassable to narrow boats and their crews. Despite the efforts of Rudolph de Sails, a director of a prominent canal freight company, who conducted a government funded survey of the tunnel, it remained abandoned because the 1904 report was not favourable. A third collapse in June 1907, and a subsequent report by Sir William Matthews, ended all hopes of ever repairing and reopening the tunnel. It was declared beyond economical repair in 1909. The canal continued to operate without the tunnel up until 1944, until commercial traffic finally ceased. The war is likely to have stopped all final activity.

Since its closure, Butterley Tunnel has still been extended twice, to allow the construction of a railway and the A38 road. One of the more distinguishable changes is the culverted section of the western portal which runs for 18 metres. But, in 2013 it was announced that much of the canal and the tunnel were now exceptional monuments and work by the ‘Friends of the Cromford Canal’ to preserve them has continued. No more changes to the tunnel, other than repair or restorative work, is now permitted. The Friends of the Cromford Canal are a group of volunteers who aim to fully restore Butterley Tunnel and the Cromford Canal. A few years ago they offered horse drawn visits into the only navigable section of the tunnel to raise money, however it is uncertain whether or not they still continue to do this given the poor integrity of the structure.

Our Version of Events

We left Leeds and the Dark Arches behind just as it was getting dark. Next on our agenda was something else that lies underground, but this time the dinghy was required! We’ve attempted Butterley once before and ended up paddling our way down the abandoned Cromford Canal; which was entertaining in itself, but a little disappointing since we didn’t manage to reach the tunnel entrance because of extremely overgrown and dry sections. This time, we avoided a leisurely cruise down the waterway and arrived directly at the tunnel entrance itself; wasting no time putting waders on and inflating our trusty vessel.

We had assumed that some sections might be dry, because the tunnel is abandoned after all, yet the heavy rains in recent weeks must have raised the water level quite considerably. We didn’t spot any dry land while inside and only had to leave the dinghy once to bypass a pile of rubble and silt which had fallen from one of the air shafts directly above us. Later, by the time we reached some of the supports a fair distance into the tunnel, the water level was too high to get the dinghy beneath and we didn’t fancy climbing over the wooden support beams because they are no longer made of wood; they’re more sponge than anything else. A final attempt to ditch the dinghy and wade our way further into the tunnel also failed on account of the depth of the water. Climbing out of the dinghy is easy enough, but climbing back inside is altogether a different task. As you try to haul yourself back inside, without being able to touch the ground beneath the water, you get sucked under the boat. After a few failed attempts to find the ground, and one breeched pair of waders, we decided to head back to the cars and tents for a bit of rest before the next day’s activities.

On a final note, I would warn anyone else thinking of visiting Butterley Tunnel that it is a bit worse for wear these days, and we witnessed several sections where the wooden support beams have disintegrated from the ceiling. After seeing images of reports from years ago, a number of the support beams which used to lie at floor level have also disappeared. The brickwork is a bit sketchy too in certain places, where new cracks have formed and subsidence has caused a number of bulges to appear. It was certainly a little disconcerting as we paddled on, knowing that the tunnel has collapsed in on itself before.

Explored with Ford Mayhem, Meek-Kune-Do, Rizla Rider and Husky.

1: The Night Begins

DSC_0056a_zps39burexn.jpg

2: Preparing the Vessel

DSC_0065a_zps8zgbj42u.jpg

3: The Western Entrance: The Corrugated Steel Lined Concrete Culvert

DSC_0066a_zpsg2cklyku.jpg

4: The End of the Culvert Section

DSC_0069a_zps2knac0p5.jpg

5: Inside Butterley Tunnel

DSC_0071a_zpscmrhaw7j.jpg

6: Rail Extension: Curved Steel Support Beams Backed by Wood

DSC_0080a_zpsb5uml6fa.jpg

7: Inspecting the Woodwork

DSC_0081a_zpsyyghrle4.jpg

8: Some Structural Damage

DSC_0085a_zpse0serlxc.jpg

9: Reaching the End of the Metal Support Beams (the Low Red Brick Arch)

DSC_0089a_zpsbcwymv3j.jpg

10: Original Tunnel Support Beams

DSC_0092a_zps03lh1bww.jpg

11: Passing Through the Original Wooden Beams

DSC_0093a_zpsavsrdpxw.jpg

12: The Brick Lined Section

DSC_0100a_zpsiavbpbws.jpg

13: Old Brickwork

DSC_0102a_zpsx15ojez4.jpg

14: Second Section of Original Support Beams

DSC_0105a_zpsvm9yww5t.jpg

15: Almost at the Ventilator Shaft

DSC_0109a_zpso3m6ofn8.jpg

16: A Bit of Seepage (Close to the Old Reservoir Audits) - The Wooden Slats on the Floor Should have Been Somewhere Around Here

DSC_0111a_zps1uk8pamd.jpg

17: At the Ventilator Shaft (Situated Directly Above)

DSC_0116a_zpsrwbqeatt.jpg

18: The Low Support Beams Preventing Further Access

DSC_0117a_zpsnihvef7m.jpg

19: Success! And Fresh Air.

DSC_0061a_zpsqasrhqlm.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Looks like great fun and makes me want to sort some locations out were I can dig the dinghy out :thumb

There's always an adventure to be had when a dinghy is involved ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Similar Content

    • By SuZyQue
      This was on the way back from the garden centre, I persuaded my mate to stop by and after climbing through brambles, mud etc we were in, these are fantastic up close, enjoy the pics.
      This was taken from the car on the way there.

      Finally they came into view after a muddy and long walk.

      Up close wow.


      Inside some control room.


      My mate standing next to one of those towers, its huge.


      A old helicopter, this place was used for paintballing.

      The helicopter controls.

      Couldn't resist a pic of this on the way in, thats all of the pics I got as my battery died on me, enjoy the pics, it was fun with a nice pub lunch and drink afterwards, got absolutely filthy but great fun.

    • By SuZyQue
      I visited this place last year with my daughter whilst visiting relatives, entrance was comical, borrowed a search blaster as we weren't prepared, had a great time, This was still there last time I looked it's in Coleshill, Warwickshire. Enjoy the pics.
      The main entrance.


      The flooded boiler house.

      The kitchen.


      The hall

      This ornate work was all around the hall, fantastic.






      The obligatory radiator pic.

      One of the many corridors.

      Some fancy artwork.


      I now know that this is a training aid, but it scared the life out of me in the dark.


      Someone left there boots behind.

      Some of the toys etc and there were lots of books under the stage.

      Lovely wooden doors into the hall.

      These made me crack up.

      Peeling paint.


      It was a great day out with Miss CSI, well worth a visit if you are nearby.
    • By SuZyQue
      Visited this place with Lynton, Miss CSI, and SteAlTh last year, it has now been sealed up, but a interesting little explore, Enjoy the pics.My camera wasn't the best then, had a cheap old argos number, the others have better ones.
      The tiny hole we squeezed through.



      Lots of old bottles and rubbish lying about, we think that when pleasurama was on the site they used to put some of there stuff inside this place.



      Lots of carvings in the chalk.






      This was a nice easy explore.
    • By SuZyQue
      This was one of the first explores I did, visited with StEaLtH AND Cavking, the floors were well dodgy and death traps in places, I've got a soft spot for this place, and I actually got some nice pics, anyway enough said, on with the pics.
      One of the corridors, we didn't get any pics of the front of this place as security was very tight and if I remember there hut was right at the front of the building.

      The main hall. The architecture and ceiling were fantastic, very sad that it has got into this state, the architect whose name escapes me designed alot of the asylums in the uk.

      The stage at the back of the hall.







      Peeling paint.

      I just luv this coloured broken glass.






      Whats left of the old hairdressers.


      A great explore, this place is how I got my exploring jeans as I ripped them on a fence, so have worn them ever since. Enjoy the pics.
    • By superwide
      Me and my brother, littlewide had a really nice explore this morning onto the site of the now closed Snowdown colliery. Loads of building left standing easy access into most of them, this is the deepest mine in Kent at 3000m at its lowest point, apparently at that depth the rock is hot.
      We started having a nose around in a couple of the larger building, there are loads of bits and pieces laying around everything from cranes to miners boots. In the admin building there are contracts of employment laying every where dating from around 1930 until the mid 80's.
      There is one small problem.....security, as we came out from the back of the building marked "opening" we saw them pull up, so after a hasty and covert move away to the slag heap we made our way back toward the buildings on the left, then more security pulled onto the site so we decided to make an exit and plan our next visit a little better.
      Sorry about the pic's my Box brownie is shagged and then half way round the battery's also died. Not sure what all the cloud effects are....maybe the ghosts of past miners.
      I will add some notes to the pics later. Bit short on time at the mo.





























Disclaimer

Oblivion State exists as an online forum to allow like minded individuals to share their experiences of Urban Exploration. We do not condone breaking and entering or other criminal activity and advise all members to read the FAQ articles about the forum and urban exploring in general. All posts are the responsibility of the original poster and all images remain copyright to the original photographer.

We would just like to thank

Forum user AndyK! from Behind Closed Doors for our rather excellent new logo.

All of our fantastic team of Moderators who volunteer their time to keep this place running smoothly.

All of our members for continuing to support Oblivion State by posting up the most awesome content. Thank you everyone!
×