Guy & Charlotte Vincent
Following closure of the S&D in 1966 the tunnel fell into disuse and was abandoned, later being taken over by Wessex Water and the portals were secured with large steel doors and masonry. From 2008 a well organised appeal and programme of works saw the tunnel revived with essential maintenance completed followed by a complete refurbishment including the installation of lighting throughout and a smooth tarmac surface for walkers and cyclists. The tunnel reopened as part of the Two Tunnels Greenway project on 6th April 2013 and is now managed by Sustrans. Throughout the tunnel on both sides there are refuges cut back into the walls where those unfortunate enough to have had to be present when a train was passing would have retreated to. Much of the tunnel is unlined with a sandy, creamy rock-like surface that varies in texture, width and height, this is coated with a good amount of soot from the hundreds of thousands of steam locomotive chimneys that used to pound their way through. Some sections are brick-lined and there are many interesting 'rings' built at differing times. For the guidance of today's users the tunnel is numbered from Zero to 84 N-S with ground distance markers every 100 metres. For much of the straight section moody violin music continually plays on a solar-powered loop system. The attached photos were taken (with the aid of a new and very expensive iphone!) by Charlotte Vincent, walking south to north on Saturday May 16th 2020.
Guy Vincent. N.B. Blue font for S & D