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#204929 - 7th Feb 2008 12:35pm The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 *****
chriskay Offline
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Registered: 25th Oct 2007
Posts: 4868
Loc: shropshire
I Found this interesting article the other day. It was written nearly 3 years before the opening of the tunnel. Contrary to the up-beat outlook at the end, the service was never a success until George Westinghouse stepped in with money to electrify the line, which happened in 1903.
As an aside, I remember my grandmother, born 1888, telling me she travelled on the line in the days of steam.



SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT NO. 384
NEW YORK, MAY 12, 1883


THE MERSEY RAILWAY TUNNEL.
The work of connecting Liverpool with Birkenhead by means of a railway tunnel is now an almost certain success. It is probable that the entire cost of the tunnel works will amount to about half a million sterling. The first step was taken about three years ago, when shafts were sunk simultaneously on both sides of the Mersey. The engineers intrusted with the plans were Messrs. Brunlees & Fox, and they have now as their resident representative Mr. A.H. Irvine, C.E. The contractor for the entire work is Mr. John Waddell, and his lieutenant in charge at both sides of the river is Mr. James Prentice. The post of mechanical engineer at the works is filled by Mr. George Ginty. Under these chiefs, a small army of nearly 700 workmen are now employed night and day at both sides of the river in carrying out the tunnel to completion. On the Birkenhead side, the landward excavations have reached a point immediately under Hamilton Square, where Mr. John Laird's statue is placed, and here there will be an underground station, the last before crossing the river, the length of which will be about 400 feet, with up and down platforms. Riverward on the Cheshire side, the excavators have tunneled to a point considerably beyond the line of the Woodside Stage; while the Lancashire portion of the subterranean work now extends to St. George's Church, at the top of Lord street, on the one side, and Merseyward to upward of 90 feet beyond the quay wall, and nearly to the deepest part of the river.

----------------

When completed, the total length of the tunnel will be three miles one furlong, the distance from wall to wall at each side of the Mersey being about three-quarters of a mile. The underground terminus will be about Church street and Waterloo place, in the immediate neighborhood of the Central Station, and the tunnel will proceed from thence, in an almost direct line, under Lord street and James street; while on the south side of the river it will be constructed from a junction at Union street between the London and Northwestern and Great Western Railways, under Chamberlain street, Green lane, the Gas Works, Borough road, across the Haymarket and Hamilton street, and Hamilton square.

----------------

Drainage headings, not of the same size of bore as the part of the railway tunnel which will be in actual use, but indispensable as a means of enabling the railway to be worked, will act as reservoirs into which the water from the main tunnel will be drained and run off to both sides of the Mersey, where gigantic pumps of great power and draught will bring the accumulating water to the surface of the earth, from whence it will be run off into the river. The excavations of these drainage headings at the present time extend about one hundred yards beyond the main tunnel works at each side of the river. The drainage shafts are sunk to a depth of 180 feet, and are below the lowest point of the tunnel, which is drained into them. Each drainage shaft is supplied with two pumping sets, consisting of four pumps, viz., two of 20 in. diameter, and two of 30 in. diameter. These pumps are capable of discharging from the Liverpool shafts 6,100 gallons per minute, and from the Birkenhead 5,040 gallons per minute; and as these pumps will be required for the permanent draining of the tunnel, they are constructed in the most solid and substantial manner. They are worked by compound engines made by Hathorn, Davey & Co., of Leeds, and are supplied with six steel boilers by Daniel Adamson & Co., of Dukinfield, near Manchester.

----------------

In addition to the above, there is in course of construction still more powerful pumps of 40 in. diameter, which will provide against contingencies, and prevent delay in case of a breakdown such as occurred lately on the Liverpool side of the works. The nature of the rock is the new red sandstone, of a solid and compact character, favorable for tunneling, and yielding only a moderate quantity of water. The engineers have been enabled to arrange the levels to give a minimum thickness of 25 ft. and an average thickness of 30 ft. above the crown of the tunnel.

----------------

Barges are now employed in the river for the purpose of ascertaining the depth of the water, and the nature of the bottom of the river. It is satisfactory to find that the rock on the Liverpool side, as the heading is advanced under the river, contains less and less water, and this the engineers are inclined to attribute to the thick bed of stiff bowlder clay which overlies the rock on this side, which acts as a kind of "overcoat" to the "under garments." The depth of the water in one part of the river is found to be about 72 ft.; in the middle about 90 ft.; and as there is an intermediate depth of rock of about 27 ft., the distance is upward of 100 ft. from the surface of low water to the top of the tunnel.

----------------

It is expected that the work will shortly be pushed forward at a much greater speed than has hitherto been the case, for in place of the miner's pick and shovel, which advanced at the rate of about ten yards per week, a machine known as the Beaumont boring machine will be brought into requisition in the course of a day or two, and it is expected to carry on the work at the rate of fifty yards per week, so that this year it may be possible to walk through the drainage heading from Liverpool to Birkenhead. The main tunnel works now in progress will probably be completed and trains running in the course of 18 months or two years.

----------------

The workmen are taken down the shaft by which the debris is hoisted, ten feet in diameter, and when the visitor arrives at the bottom he finds himself in quite a bright light, thanks to the Hammond electric light, worked by the Brush machine, which is now in use in the tunnel on both sides of the river. The depth of the pumping shaft is 170 feet, and the shaft communicates directly with the drainage heading. This circular heading now has been advanced about 737 yards. The heading is 7 feet in diameter, and the amount of it under the river is upward of 200 yards on each side. The main tunnel, which is 26 feet wide and 21 feet high, has also made considerable progress at both the Liverpool and Birkenhead ends. From the Liverpool side the tunnel now extends over 430 yards, and from the opposite shore about 590 yards. This includes the underground stations, each of which is 400 feet long, 51 feet wide, and 32 feet high. Although the main tunnel has not made quite the same progress between the shafts as the drainage heading, it is only about 100 yards behind it. When completed, the tunnel will be about a mile in length from shaft to shaft. In the course of the excavations which have been so far carried out, about 70 cubic yards of rock have been turned out for every yard forward.

----------------

Ten horses are employed on the Birkenhead side for drawing wagons loaded with debris to the shaft, which, on being hoisted, is tipped into the carts and taken for deposit to various places, some of which are about three miles distant. The tunnel is lined throughout with very solid brickwork, some of which is, 18 inches thick (composed of two layers of blue and two of red brick), and toward the river this brickwork is increased to a thickness of six rings of bricks--three blue and three red. A layer of Portland cement of considerable thickness also gives increased stability to the brick lining and other portions of the tunnel, and the whole of the flooring will be bricked. There are about 22 yards of brickwork in every yard forward. The work of excavation up to the present time has been done by blasting (tonite being employed for this purpose), and by the use of the pick and shovel. At every 45 ft. on alternate sides niches of 18 in. depth are placed for the safety of platelayers. The form of the tunnel is semicircular, the arch having a 13 ft. radius, the side walls a 25 ft. radius, and the base a 40 ft. radius.

----------------

Fortunately not a single life has up to the present time been lost in carrying out the exceedingly elaborate and gigantic work, and this immunity from accident is largely owing to the care and skill which are manifested by the heads of the various departments. The Mersey Tunnel scheme may now be looked upon as an accomplished work, and there is little doubt its value as a commercial medium will be speedily and fully appreciated upon completion.

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#204952 - 7th Feb 2008 2:23pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: chriskay]
Mark Online   Reading


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Registered: 9th Nov 2003
Posts: 20965
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Excellent Find Chris thumbsup

I find it very interesting that even little snip its of advertising are in place.

"and when the visitor arrives at the bottom he finds himself in quite a bright light, thanks to the Hammond electric light, worked by the Brush machine, "
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#224271 - 1st May 2008 9:20pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Mark]
BMW_Sparkie Offline
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Registered: 17th Aug 2007
Posts: 134
Loc: Wallasey
Very interesting read....nice one smile
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#224850 - 3rd May 2008 3:57pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: BMW_Sparkie]
Andy13 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 25th Apr 2008
Posts: 133
Loc: Tranmere Birkenhead
The giant grasshopper at woodside has some interesting stuff on mersey railway tunnel It's well worth a look only open weekends tho!

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#224851 - 3rd May 2008 3:58pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Andy13]
BMW Joe Offline
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Registered: 30th Apr 2006
Posts: 12369
Loc: Birkenhead
what time is it open till?
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#224947 - 3rd May 2008 10:05pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: BMW Joe]
chriskay Offline
Forum Veteran

Registered: 25th Oct 2007
Posts: 4868
Loc: shropshire
Originally Posted By: BMW Joe
what time is it open till?


Wirral Museum will know. 0151 666 4010
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#224985 - 4th May 2008 2:18am Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: chriskay]
LukeORourke Offline
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Registered: 13th Dec 2007
Posts: 267
Loc: Canberra Australia
i've 2 the grasshopper with my dad once or twice it is very interesting and one of his old school mates work there his name Glyn Parry

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#226406 - 10th May 2008 12:15pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: LukeORourke]
Andy13 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 25th Apr 2008
Posts: 133
Loc: Tranmere Birkenhead
wots happening with wapping tunnel, victoria tunnel, woodside - rock ferry tunnel and monks ferry tunnel will they ever be used again?

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#226468 - 10th May 2008 9:40pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Andy13]
dave_g Offline
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Registered: 22nd Feb 2008
Posts: 1131
Loc: wallasey
they been tramps accomodation for years!

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#226558 - 11th May 2008 7:57am Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: dave_g]
jonno40 Offline
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Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
Cant see them being used again as from our investigations the geograpy above ground has changed .The vent shafts quite possibly have buildings or carparks on them .And as mentioned in the previous post they are now frequented by the homeless and addicts.The route that the woodside and monks tunnels used to take before they reached the tunnels now has the fly over built over them as well.


Edited by jonno39 (11th May 2008 8:00am)
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#228766 - 18th May 2008 6:18pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: jonno40]
Andy13 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 25th Apr 2008
Posts: 133
Loc: Tranmere Birkenhead
Was lookin on the net and there are plans to reopen them all part of the NEW NORTHERN LINE project whether or not it gets the go-ahead or not? Also birkenhead dock railway has been talked about reopening to ease congestion

www.yoliverpool.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-4262.html

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#229064 - 19th May 2008 8:34pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Andy13]
Sludge Offline

Member

Registered: 16th Dec 2007
Posts: 97
Loc: sleepy village , Roche Ferrae
Rock Ferry tunnel , didnt know there was one , tell me more chaps omg
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#229168 - 20th May 2008 2:25am Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Sludge]
Andy13 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 25th Apr 2008
Posts: 133
Loc: Tranmere Birkenhead
there isnt actualy a tunnel in rock ferry that is just the start/finish point of that line. I'ts the old line that runs back of rock retail park and as it heads towards wooodside it then goes into the tunnel located just before the tunnel tolls (behind the billboards) the tunnel is quite long going from tolls to arriva bus park at woodside, used to walk through them all the time until they got filled in last year


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#229177 - 20th May 2008 8:52am Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: Andy13]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
there are two tunnels there the woodside and the monks tunnels . underneath the fly over is where the line splits into three,haymarket,woodside and the monks line.
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It all makes perfect sense expressed in dollars and cents ,pound shillings and pence

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#245627 - 3rd Aug 2008 5:32pm Re: The Mersey Tunnel Railway 1883 [Re: chriskay]
uptoncx Offline
Veteran

Registered: 24th May 2008
Posts: 683
Loc: Wirral
Scientific American must have been keen on the Mersey Railway Tunnel as they had another article on Saturday, March 13, 1886


The Mersey Tunnel




We present herewith several illustrations of the new tunnel under the river Mersey, between the two cities of Liverpool and Birkenhead, which occupy a somewhat similar position in respect to each other as New York and Brooklyn. The London Graphic, from which our views are taken, says: An improved connection between the two banks of the Mersey estuary has been a problem for a very long time. There was a ferry across the river as early as the eleventh century. In 1832 the first steam ferry boat, of which we give an illustration, was launched, and since that time the traffic has so greatly increased that the present ferry carried last year 26,000,000 of passengers and 750,000 tons of goods. Schemes for bridges, pneumatic railways, etc., have also been mooted at various times, and as long ago as 1864 a bill for the construction of a tunnel under the Mersey was introduced into Parliament.





Commercial panics and the opposition of vested interests, however, prevented its passing until 1871. Even then the work was languidly supported, and it was only in 1879, when an arrangement was made with Major Issac, that the work began to advance. Since that time the organization has been so perfect that progress has been unceasing, and among 3,000 men constantly employed, no death has occurred for which a coroner's jury has blamed the company or the contractor.





The initial boring experiments showed that there was an almost uninterrupted stratum of red sandstone beneath the bed of the river, and through this the tunnel has been made. Though no actual inundation occurred, the percolation of water, owing to the porous nature of the sandstone, proved a source of considerable difficulty. This was removed, however, by the gigantic pumps errected at both ends of the tunnel, of which we give illustrations. They were kept constantly going, and were capable of delivering 300 gallons per stroke. On the 17th January, 1884, little more than four years after the undertaking had been regularly taken in hand, the workmen on the Birkenhead side shook hands with those from Liverpool. So accurate had been the calculations of the engineers, that the centers of the borings were less than an inch apart. The rapidity with which the work had been carried out was greatly due to the use of Colonel Beaumont's boring machine, which is driven by compressed air, and scoops out a tunnel seven feet in diameter; large quantities of explosives, however, were also employed in the excavations. The tunnel, which is laid with a double line of rails, is well drained and ventilated. The ventilating tunnel, 7 feet 2 inches in diameter, is placed parallel to the main tunnel, and at a distance of about 20 feet from it. The ventilation is accomplished by means of fans. Two of these, each 40 feet in diameter, placed one at Liverpool, the other at Birkenhead, ventilate the section of the tunnel which lies under the bed of the river, while two smaller fans purify the air in the two extremities of the tunnel which lie beneath the land. When these fans are all at work at once, they can draw out of the tunnel 600,000 cubic feet of air per minute, thereby changing the whole air of the tunnel once in every seven minutes. In consequence of the great depth of the river, and the comparative shortness of the line, the gradients are somewhat severe, but this drawback is obviated by the use of exceptionally powerful locomotives, which will perform the journey between Liverpool and Birkenhead in less than four minutes. At either end lifts capable of raising a hundred persons at a time have been erected, so that there will be very little delay in getting from the streets to the railway which lies so far beneath them. The tunnel is already in full working order, and trains run freely through it. On the Cheshire side, it is joined by the Great Western Railway system. All that remains to be done is the connection of the tunnel railway with the Lancashire railway system.








Edited by uptoncx (30th Jan 2011 12:51pm)

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