Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
WildBoyz

New Zealand Chain Hills Tunnel, Dunedin - May 2017

Recommended Posts

History

Unlike the railways in Europe or northern America, New Zealand tracks were rudimentary. They were built cheaply and hastily using light iron rails that had a narrow 3ft 6in gauge. Even the tunnels and bridges were minimalistic and usually made as small as possible to get the railways up and running as quickly as possible. It was always the intention, though, that the lines would be improved in the future as traffic and available finances increased. 

The four-hundred and sixty-two metre long Chain Hills Railway Tunnel, also known as Wingatui Tunnel, was one of the tunnels built in the 1870s, during New Zealand’s brief period of industrialisation. The line itself was constructed to improve transportation of coal and other natural resources across the land to major ports, where the goods could then be shipped elsewhere. Like the Caversham Tunnel, the Chain Hills Tunnel was largely dug out by hand, but it is unique in the sense that it is a Victorian styled brick tunnel that would have taken longer to build than some of the others that were carved out. The Chain Hills Tunnel also sparked much excitement in Dunedin during its construction as workmen made an interesting discovery while making a cutting at the southern end of the tunnel. Thirty-five feet under the ground, which it is thought was once swampland, a large number of moa bones were found (a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand). The bones ranged in shape and size and were in a very good state of preservation owing to the high alkaline levels in the soil. 

The Chain Hills Tunnel was completed in 1875, and it was measured as being four hundred and sixty-two metres long. Progress was aided with the construction of brick kilns at either end of the tunnel, as this meant materials did not run short because bricks were constantly available throughout the project. However, finishing the tunnel proved to be a difficult and dangerous task. For years the project was plagued by regular flooding, which slowed progress, and workers were also encumbered by the hardness of the stone they were cutting through. Alongside these issues, six months before completion a rock fall occurred at the north end of the tunnel. The incident claimed the lives of two men, Patrick Dempsey and Thomas Kerr. A third man was severely injured as both of his legs were shattered, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life. In the end, the tunnel did not remain in service for very long either as it was abandoned in 1914. A new dual-lane tunnel was constructed further south which meant there was no longer any need for the Chain Hills Tunnel. 

In the short period of time the Chain Hills Tunnel was operational it claimed another life – that of Irishman George Thompson. Reports indicate that late one evening in 1895, George took a shortcut through the tunnel to get home. Although there are several niches in the tunnel it is likely George was unaware of them, or simply too far away to reach one, before he noticed the oncoming train. Since its closure, however, no more lives have been lost. For a while the tunnel was used as a popular way of passing between Abbotsford and Wingatui, and for moving sheep between the two locations. Nevertheless, since the 1980s the tunnel has been closed to the public due to the deterioration of the tunnel’s structural integrity and subsequent health and safety concerns.

In recent years there have been plans to redevelop the tunnel into part of the proposed Otago Central Rail Trail (a cycle and pedestrian track). But, due to lack of funding and ongoing concerns surrounding the structural integrity of the tunnel, especially with the increased risk of it being damaged by an earthquake, the project has come to a standstill. The only recent work Dunedin City Council has carried out on the Chain Hills Tunnel has been to shift two vents from sewer gas reticulation pipes, to stop them from venting into the tunnel. 

Our Version of Events

Having just returned from a South Island trip the previous night, we had no intentions of going exploring, until Nillskill rocked up that is. He was passing back through Dunedin so we decided while he was around to have a crack at the old Chain Hills Tunnel that’s been on the cards for quite a while. We understand there was a public open day a few months ago, but going to an event like that would take away one of the most interesting parts of exploring – figuring out how to slip into these places. 

We loaded up the car with the usual gear and raided the fridge for all the beers we had spare, then set off in the direction of Mosgiel, a town that is apparently well-known for its local legends and myths. The drive didn’t take too long, which is always good, but the next hour or so we spent trying to find the damn tunnel was a right challenge. To avoid a couple of nearby farms we headed into a patch of native woodland. This would most likely have been quite pleasant, if we’d been able to see where the fuck we were going. But, as we didn’t want to risk using the torches with the farms being so close, we ended up getting very lost among the trees and bushes. 

After following a few false trails, we did eventually stumbled across the entrance to the tunnel. Just the faint sight of it in the distance raised our disheartened spirits. The next challenge, though, was to get past a locked gate. Fortunately, this wasn’t as bad as it had first appeared, probably due to the fact that we’ve had plenty of practice in the art of contortion over the years we’ve been exploring. To keep it brief, despite some initial doubts about our ability to contort through the space available to us, we managed to worm our way inside. 

As expected, the inside of the tunnel was incredibly muddy. Even sticking close to the walls didn’t help very much. As for the tunnel itself, though, it was, aesthetically speaking, very pleasant. It reminded us of an old Victorian railway tunnel you’d find in the UK. The condition of some of the bricks in the Chain Hills Tunnel are quite poor too, which enhances its overall photogenicity. Other than that, however, there isn’t a lot else to see. That’s the nature of old railway tunnels unfortunately. We did find a couple of niches and a few pipes belonging to the sewer system, but they’re pretty standard finds in these places. Eventually, after what felt like a fair bit of walking, we found ourselves at the second gate. For some reason, the authorities had left this one open, probably due to the fact that the tunnel is inaccessible from this side. Whatever the reason, it gave us an easy exit from the tunnel, where we found ourselves on a narrow muddy trail surrounded by dense forest. Apparently, if you continue down the track for a while you eventually reach the present day railway line, but it’s quite difficult for anyone to access the tunnel from this side. We didn’t walk down the trail to find out if this is true mind, since we had a bottle of whisky to get started on back in Dunedin. 

Explored with Nillskill
 

railway-constuction-chains-hill_zpspn4do

 

1:

 

aaDSC_0051_zps3dpqzjmw.jpg

 

2:

 

aaDSC_0053_zpsczvh61ug.jpg

 

3:

 

aaDSC_0056_zpsa3dyw55v.jpg

 

4:

 

aaDSC_0058_zps9towcrvr.jpg

 

5:

 

aaDSC_0059_zpszzntsn89.jpg

 

6:

 

aaDSC_0064_zpsetyto7lt.jpg

 

7:

 

aaDSC_0065_zpsxnurqpe2.jpg

 

8:

 

aaDSC_0066_zpsfdthy7vy.jpg

 

9:

 

aaDSC_0067_zpsjeyxgs9s.jpg

 

10:

 

aaDSC_0068_zpstkmsqvby.jpg

 

11:

 

aaDSC_0069_zps74y9lnhs.jpg

 

12:

 

aaDSC_0073_zpsnqkr0cpc.jpg

 

13:

 

aaDSC_0075_zpsoovetpcz.jpg

 

14:

 

aaDSC_0076_zps4bfvaceg.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cheers :thumb I guess to you guys it just looks like an ordinary tunnel lol. Brick ones like this are less common in NZ though, due to the earthquake situation. 

Edited by WildBoyz

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
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By btn_urbex
      HISTORY
      Tenterden Town railway station is a heritage railway station on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in Tenterden, Kent, England.
       
      When the railway line first opened in 1900, Rolvenden Station was known as "Tenterden". Its name was changed when the line extended north three years later and a station closer to Tenterden was constructed. The new Tenterden Town station opened on 16 March 1903.The line closed for regular passenger services on 4 January 1954 and all traffic in 1961. It reopened on 3 February 1974 under the aegis of the Tenterden Railway Company which bought the line between Tenterden and Bodiam. The station now houses the KESR's Carriage and Wagon works, and the Colonel Stephens Museum is located nearby.
       
      EXPLORE
      So we set out on our explore with a list of places We wanted to check out. After a few not amounting to much and the next couple being total fails, we parked up and regrouped! 
      The  Tenterden site had been on my radar for a while (although I couldn’t be 100% about it’s location) so after a little discussion we decided to take a chance and head out to try and find the Lost Railway and its Train Graveyard.
      We headed toward the closest point by road, parked up and set off along a short path way. The area was really quiet apart from the odd dog walker.  After literally five minutes we knew we were in the right place and could see the abandoned trains hidden amongst the trees.  Access was easy literally a small hop over the fence and down the bank, there they were! 
      Its the first time any of us had ever done an explore of this nature and it was amazing... 
      Anyway here are some of the pictures we took throughout the explore.
      Thanks for reading 😊



























    • By anthrax
      The secrets of the legendary catacombs of Paris, a tunnel system that spans more than 280km in length.
       
      The catacombs in Paris hold remains of more than six million people. They are part of a tunnel network that runs below Paris that is more than 280 kilometers long. No one knows how far the tunnels extend in total, as there are still many paths that are unmapped and even undiscovered. The main reason behind the tunnels was to extract  Lutetian limestone for use as a building material. For instance, parts of the Louvre, the Place de la Concorde and Les Invalides were built with limestone from this tunnel system.
       
      The catacombs only take up about 2.1km of the tunnel system and they are the only part that is legally accessible. Even though that is the case, many people refer to the surrounding tunnel network when speaking about the "Catacombs of Paris".
       
      The ossuary was created in the late 1700s to tackle the problem of overflowing cemeteries and until the early 19th century, the ossuary was largely forgotten until it became a novelty place for concerts and other private events.
      The network is mostly intact today and is regularily toured by urban explorers or so called "Cataphiles".
       
      If anyone is curious about the way we took, the names of the rooms we went into and a bit of a sidestory, here's the full post (warning: It's damn long and I feel it would overcrowd the forums)
       
      Also, even though I posted a lot of photos, these are not all, so feel free to check out the rest of them if anyone has gotten curious.
       
      LINK: http://inwordsandpictures.net/catacombs
      FULL-ALBUM: https://flic.kr/s/aHskDMEvnC
      INSTAGRAM: ofcdnb
       
       
      DSC_9230 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9239 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9241 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9245 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9250 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9254 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9257 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9265_1 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9276 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      SC_9279 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9281 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9283_1 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9290_1 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9311 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9338 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9343_2 by anthrax, auf Flickr
      DSC_9346_1 by anthrax, auf Flickr
    • By Lenston
      History 
       
      The engineering company J.E. Billups of Cardiff who also constructed Mireystock Bridge and the masonry work on the Lydbrook viaduct commenced construction of the tunnel in 1872 using forest stone. The tunnel is 221 metres in length and took 2 years to construct. The tunnel allowed the connection of the Severn and Wye Valley railway running from Lydney with the Ross and Monmouth network at Lydbrook. The first mineral train passed through the tunnel on 16 August 1874. Passenger services commenced in September 1875 pulled by the engine Robin Hood.
       
      The history of this section of line is not without incident - a railway ganger was killed in the tunnel by a train in 1893 and a locomotive was derailed by a fallen block of stone in the cutting at the northern entrance in 1898.
      The line officially closed to passenger trains in July 1929 but goods trains continued to use the line until the closure of Arthur & Edward Colliery at Waterloo in 1959 and Cannop Colliery in 1960. Lifting of the track was completed in 1962. The tunnel and cutting were buried with spoil in the early 1970's.
       
      Thanks to the vision and enthusiasm of a group of local Forest railway enthusiasts assisted by Forest Enterprise the top of the northern portal of the tunnel (with its unusual elliptical shape) which has lain buried for 30 years has now been exposed. 
      As of 2018 the tunnel now still lays abandoned with no sign of the cycle track and the £50,000 funding seemingly gone to waste.
       
      Pics
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
      Thanks for looking
    • By farmer.ned
      hi having finished a job fairly nearby it was time to do another one on my to do list that being clarborough railway tunnel.
      clarborough tunnel was built in 1850 and lies just over 2 miles from retford in nottinghamshire on the branch line of the sheffield to lincoln line
      which sees an hourly service between the 2 cities and occasional freight trains and is a site of special scientific intrest and houses clarborough nature reserve on top of the tunnel.
      proposed in 1844 and completed in 1850 by the manchester sheffield and lincoln railway ( MSLR)  continues to trent junction where it joins the great northern and great eastern joint railway ( GN&GEJR)  from doncaster and continues eastwards to cleethorpes via brigg and in a southerly direction to lincoln where it rejoins the east coast main line south of peterborough there was also a junction at clarborough which ran via torksey to sykes junction continuing on to lincoln and cleethorpes via market rasen this closed in 1959 but reopened in 1967 as far cottham to serve the power station all other freight traveling via gainsborough lea road  .
       
      now a word of warning to would be explorers..... exploring live railway tunnels is not something to be approached lightly  unlike dead tunnels  they still have frequent trains running through them most are tucked out of the way and may be difficult to access but the main considerations are safety first dont do anything which would put yourself in danger and always be constantly on the look out for trains and most of all ensure you are not seen as nowadays they delay trains which incurs fines for the operator so BTP will not be sympathetic if you get caught and you may find yourself in front of the magistrate.
       
      that said  clarborough tunnel is accessed fom church lane  following the road for around a mile untill  i found the line at cherry holt crossing on whinleys road a continuation  of church lane my goal clarborough tunnel was around a quarter mile further on but not fancying playing dodge the train i parked the car at the locked crossing gates and set off on foot uphill again to find a way to  the tunnel.
      passing cherry holt farm i attracted the attention of a rather loud doberman dog  who proceded to follow me up the farmers field barking loudly being glad there was a large fence between myself and it walked in to the wood and nature reserve.
      following the main path through the wood i gained the nature reserve and found the ventilation shaft for the tunnel continuing on the right hand path found myself at the top of the east portal of clarborough tunnel.
      the next qustion was how to get down to it with a very steep bank and bushes after much probing found a gap and had to slide down the steep bank on my arse using my boots and grass as a brake eventually reaching the bottom  and ensuring nothing was lurking walked towards the tunnel.
      an aproaching train caused me to take cover behind a retaining wall after which i spent around 20 mins photographing and deciding the best way out.
      not really fancying a 650 yard walk through the tunnel then a quarter mile to the crossing and not having a timetable it had to be the same way i got in  but this time up the side of the tunnel bank and across the tunnel top and after much climbing  got over the  fence and rolled myself a fag while i regained my composure  returning back through the reserve picked up a big stick lest my 4 legged friend should be around  and find a way through the fence at least i,d got something to brain it with.
      there was no sign of the dog  and thought it had gone in for its tea untill a large shape rounded the corner barking furiously yes my friend was back and continued to follow me down the field to much barking.
      leaving my walking stick at the crossing for someone else to use managed to grab a couple of train pictures to add to my report and another explore crossed off the list.
      cherry holt crossing the adventure starts here.... 

      clarborough tunnel in the distance the signs warn engineers they are entering a site of scientific intrest and must obtain special permission to work here. 

      the crossing access board

      clarborough tunnel ventilation shaft

      looking down from the top of the tunnel

      looking towards lincoln i came down the steep bank on my arse on the left

      first view of clarborough tunnel,s east portal from the embankment 

      trackside safety first from here on in

      lantern repeater signal TN 835 (thrumpton) stands guard in the clear position at the tunnel portal

      clarboroughs tunnel board

      some nice beams in the tunnel roof that extend right through the tunnel which can be seen as they disapear into the darkness

      a tunnel marker

      looking outside the tunnel is quite wet in places 

      a brick reccess and signal cable

      my reccess was cut in with a steel lintel above it

      blast on the roof from its steam days

      climbing back up the bank

      the top capping stones and brickwork

      a broken drain pipe

      looking down the banking at the track

      as a northern railbus scoots into the tunnel

      another view of the capping stones

      clarborough nature reserve is right on top of clarborough tunnel and extends the full length of the tunnel
       back at the crossing as 66740 and 017 top and tail a coal train from cottham power staion out of the tunnel

      came across these on my way back up church lane think they are something to do with the fun day ...beautifull babs windsor

      wallace and grommit

      love this one british strawberries and cream
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
×