Floating tractor to clear a blockage to get Britain’s longest canal tunnel back open
- Credit: Mark Bickerdike Photography
A specialist ‘amphibious tractor’ will be venturing into Standedge Tunnel – Britain’s longest and deepest canal tunnel – on the Huddersfield Canal to clear a blockage that built up during the recent heavy downpours that caused widespread flooding across the North of England.
The unusual work will take up to two days to complete, and will require the help of a specialist mining consultant. A hydraulic bucket on the front of the amphibious dredger, known as a Truxor, will be used to clear the blockage so that boats will once again be able to navigate the 3¼ miles through the tunnel.
Approximately 8-9 cubic metres of sand, gravel and other debris were swept into the tunnel by a stream that flows into the tunnel about 250 metres from its entrance at Diggle due to the recent wet weather.
“Standedge Tunnel is such an amazing engineering achievement. 200 years ago, navvies used picks shovels and dynamite to carve their way 3 ¼ miles from one of the tunnel to the other” said Mark Weatherall, senior project manager at the Canal & River Trust. “It’s popular with boaters and tourists and it’s important that we carry out this specialist work to get the tunnel and navigation open to the public”.
Standedge Tunnel is over 200 years old and known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Waterways. The works to clear the blockage will ensure that the popular visitor attraction, which includes passenger trips into the tunnel, will reopen for the summer season as planned on 19th March.