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Penmanshiel Tunnel

A disused railway tunnel in the E Scottish Borders, the Penmanshiel Tunnel is located 1¼ miles (2 km) northwest of Grantshouse. Built 1845-46 by the North British Railway Company, under the direction of their Engineer John Miller (1805-83), the tunnel was 244m (800 feet) in length and remained in use by the East Coast Mainline Railway until its collapse in the early hours of 17th March 1979. In 1948 the tunnel was flooded, almost to its roof, while the following year a train fire destroyed two carriages of a south-bound express near the tunnel.

However, it was the collapse of a 20-m (65-foot) section of the roof which brought its closure in 1979. Work was underway to increase the height of the tunnel to cope with modern freight wagons and future electrification when the collapse occurred, killing two of the workmen - Peter Edgar Fowler (aged 21) and Gordon Turnbull (aged 33) - and burying the equipment they were operating under 2000 tons of rock. The tunnel was regarded as sufficiently unstable that their bodies could not be recovered. The tunnel was permanently sealed and the mainline was closed for three months until it could be re-routed to the west. A memorial has been constructed over the collapsed section of the tunnel, but little sign of either of its portals remain.


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