Thurstonland Tunnel

Thurstonland Tunnel is a 1,631 yard tunnel on the Penistone Line, situated between Brock Holes Junction and Stocksmoor Station.


During the construction of the tunnel, the following fatal accidents occurred:

  • Sub-contractor Thomas Wallwork — known by the nickname "Ready Money Tom"[1] — was killed on Thursday 19 November 1846 when one of the tunnel's shafts collapsed, burying him under rubble and earth. He died before his body could be extricated.[2]
  • The following morning, on Friday 20 November 1846, stone and rubble was being lifted up shaft number 3 when the lift engine failed and it fell back down. Several of the men at the bottom of the shaft saw what happened and called out for everyone to get out of the way, but unfortunately Robert Ibberson (aged 28) of Snowgate Head was killed when debris hit his head, splitting his skull open.[2] Ibberson was buried at All Hallows, Kirkburton, on 23 November.
  • On the evening of Monday 11 October 1847, William Brook was standing at the bottom of a shaft when a rock fell from a corve that was being lifted up the shaft and struck him. He died on the way to Huddersfield Infirmary, leaving behind a wife and seven young children.[3]
  • Labourer James Parkin (aged 40) died after falling from scaffolding at the tunnel in June 1848.[4]

By March 1849, civil engineer John Hawkshaw was able to report that "not more than 60 yards remain to be completed in the Thurstonland tunnel".[5]

The line formally opened on 1 July 1850.

On 20 December 1905, a goods train was passing through the tunnel when the two final wagons and the rear guard's van became detached. The 2.27pm train from Huddersfield to Clayton West smashed into van at around 2.52pm and hurled the wagons off the line. Fortunately the goods train's guard, Edward Barker (aged 48) of Mirfield, was relatively uninjured and was able to walk to Brockholes Station where he received medical attention. None of the fifty passengers were hurt in the accident and were able to walk out of the tunnel, although the line remained blocked for several hours.[6]

On 23 January 1925, a portion of the tunnel roof collapsed onto the Bradford to London express train as it passed through. It was not until the train arrived at Denby Dale that the damage was discovered. Passengers on the 6pm and 7:19pm trains had to disembark and walk across the top of the tunnel to get a connecting train. By 8pm, the debris had been cleared and the line re-opened through the tunnel.[7]

On the evening of 19 March 1947, 19-year-old Abel Bailey[8] of Denby Dale was found slumped unconscious in a carriage with severe head injuries. It was believed that he had leaned out of the carriage window whilst the train was passing through Thurstonland Tunnel.[9]


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Notes and References

  1. At a time when it wasn't uncommon to pay wages with goods, the nickname "Ready Money" implied the person preferred money. In this case, Thomas was known for "his practise of paying his men's wages in money and not in goods".
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Fatal Railway Accidents" in Bradford Observer (26/Nov/1846) and Leeds Intelligencer (28/Nov/1846).
  3. "Fatal Accident on the Huddersfield and Sheffield Junction Railway" in Leeds Times (16/Oct/1847).
  4. "Holmfirth: Accident on the Huddersfield and Penistone Junction Railway" in Leeds Times (01/Jul/1848).
  5. "Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway" in Manchester Courier (10/Mar/1849).
  6. "Collision in a Yorkshire Tunnel" in Manchester Courier (21/Dec/1906).
  7. "Tunnel Mishap" in Sheffield Daily Telegraph (24/Jan/1925).
  8. Abel Bailey was born on 14 March 1928. He died in 1983.
  9. "Hurt in Tunnel" in Yorkshire Evening Post (20/Mar/1947).