Light at the end of the Tunnel

New Horseboating Society member Paul Francis helped to leg Maria through Standedge Tunnel in April and has written the following:

“I recently became a member of the Horseboating Society to join in The Celebration of Legging at Standedge Tunnel. This is the longest and highest canal tunnel in the UK with no towpath, burrowing through the Pennine Hills between Marsden and Diggle.

Legging gave me a fabulous history lesson and a real appreciation for what life was like in Britain’s industrial revolution. Not to mention an appreciation of what a stunning achievement the building of the canal tunnel was.

I saw cross sections of the drill holes where the Victorian workers inserted the dynamite to blast their way through the hills, and it was a geologists dream to see all the different layers of rock that make up the Pennines.

Apart from all that, words can’t do justice to the moment I first sighted the faintest pin prick of light at the far end of the tunnel, much smaller than the smallest imaginable solitary star in the night sky.

I now know the true meaning of the well-used phrase ‘The light at the end of the tunnel.’

Many Thanks,”

Standedge 2006

Members of The Horseboating Society legged “Maria” through Standedge Tunnel as part of a special celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s appointment to finish the tunnel.

The Horseboating Society’s big event for 2006 included two attempts by society members to leg Standedge Tunnel – the highest, longest and deepest canal tunnel in the country – on 7th and 14th May. These special events were being held by British Waterways as part of a double celebration at Standedge in 2006: the fifth anniversary of the reopening of the Tunnel and the 200th anniversary of Thomas Telford’s appointment to finish the tunnel.

The horsedrawn boat Maria left Ashton on May 4th to make the full canal journey to Huddersfield and returned by May 15th. Bonny and Queenie provided the horsepower.

On Sunday, 7th May, a team from the Horseboating Society legged the tunnel from Diggle to Marsden in relays of two people at a time. The boat used was the historic horseboat Maria, built in 1854 and believed to have carried limestone into the Colne Valley until 1900.

On Sunday 14th May, one member, Nigel Dix, legged the whole tunnel length from Marsden to Diggle. Bonny the Boathorse walked ‘over the top’ on both legging days while the boat was legged through the tunnel and visitors were invited to join her along Boat Lane.

On both Sundays there was also free entertainment at Standedge Visitor Centre between 12 noon until 4 pm. Visitors were able to take part in traditional games and saw waterway crafts including harness making, ropework, such as making towlines and splicing, and demonstrations on a pole-lathe. Characters dressed in costume added to the atmosphere and members of the Huddersfield Canal Society were on hand to talk about the history of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and its restoration.

Legging through Standedge Tunnel.

Preparing to leg ‘solo’.

The Ashton Packet Boat Company’s historic wooden narrowboat “Maria”, built in 1854, made the horsedrawn journey along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal between Ashton and Huddersfield and back, including being the first boat legged through Standedge Tunnel for 59 years. The passage through the tunnel took 2 hours 52 minutes. Click here for photos.

On the return journey, the boat was legged solo through the tunnel by Horseboating Society member Nigel Dix in a time of 3 hrs 3 minutes. Click here for photos.