Headstone Tunnel, Monsal Head

Headstone Tunnel and cutting, Great Longstone, Derbyshire

The Eastern Approach To The Headstone Tunnel Through It's Spectacular Cutting

Headstone Tunnel Western Portal, Monsal Dale

Headstone Tunnel From Monsal Dale

Headstone Cutting Rock Strata, Derbyshire

Headstone Cutting Geology

The Headstone Tunnel is the longest and easternmost of the eight tunnels on the former Midland Railway between Hassop and Buxton. The line opened in 1863 and operated for just over a hundred years until it fell an unlikly victim to the cut's of Dr Beeching in the 1960's, officially closing on July 1st 1968.

Headstone is what is known as a complex tunnel as it is neither straight of flat. The tunnel is 533 yards (487m) in length, whilst the eastern half of the tunnel (Great Longstone) is straight with a gradient of 1:107 falling to the west, the western section (Monsal Dale) has s curve to the north with a radius of 39 chains (858 yards or 784.5 meters).

The Chain As A Unit Of Measure
1 Chain = 66 Feet
22 Yards
20.1 Meters

Both approaches to the tunnel can be considered as out standing, the eastern approach has a spectacular cutting with near vertical sides exposing the distinctive rock strata of the area to easy view. This has lead to the site being invested with the status of a geological SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). During the construction of the cutting masonry pillars were added to support the sides of this cutting due to it's depth and the steepness of it's sides.

The western approach could not be more different, it's cutting is exceptionally short due to the steepness of the sides of Monsal Dale; also it once housing a station and situated adjacent to the Headstone Viaduct, which was it's self made famous by a Midland Railway poster.

Inside The Headstone Tunnel

Headstone Tunnel Inside Eastern Section

Looking East

Headstone Tunnel Inside Central Section

Somewhere Around The Middle

Headstone Tunnel Inside Western Section

Looking West

The inside of the tunnel is mainly engineering brick, with sections (some quite extensive) being repaired in both red brick and masonry. Refuge alcoves if varying sizes are provided in both of the tunnel walls throughout it's length some of which are partially blocked by a concrete encased water-main on the southern side of the western section of the tunnel. The main section of the tunnel is constructed with a segmented arch roof whose side walls curve slightly inward. Throughout the tunnel there are three changes of construction profile, one close to each entrance ant the third around 100 yards (90 meters) form the western tunnel entrance. Throughout the tunnels length there are a series of holes in the southern wall, each around 4x6 inches (10x15cm) which it is believed were placed to aid the support of maintenance platforms.

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Photographs and images Courtesy of RTB2 Photographic

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