For sale: A mile long Tunstall railway tunnel (video)
A DISUSED Victorian railway tunnel has gone up for sale in the hope someone can breathe new life into the ageing structure.
The mile-long Harecastle Railway Tunnel, which dates back to 1848 but has been out of use for more than 40 years, has been placed on the market by the Department for Transport.
It is one of the more unusual properties listed for disposal on a new Government website.
However, unfortunately for any railway buffs interested in buying the tunnel, the DfT will only sell it to another public body which is able to take on the structure's considerable maintenance obligations.
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It is listed for sale on the 'Find me some Government space' website, which has been launched in order to assist the disposal of vacant Government-owned property.
The website describes the tunnel as 13.8 acres of 'surplus land', running between Boathorse Road in Kidsgrove to Reginald Mitchell Way in Tunstall.
A spokesman for the DfT said: "As a piece of railway infrastructure the Harecastle Railway Tunnel is subject to strict maintenance obligations and as such is not for sale generally.
"Only public bodies which agreed to take up those obligations would be considered." North Staffordshire Railway built the tunnel in 1848 to accommodate the Tunstall to Kidsgrove line, and it remained in use for more than a century.
But in the 1960s the tunnel was deemed too narrow for electrification and modern rolling stock. It was eventually closed in 1965 and replaced with a new line to the west.
The tunnel runs roughly parallel to the two older Harecastle canal tunnels, one of which remains in use to this day.
Following the break-up of British Rail in the 1990s, the DfT took on responsibility for the tunnel and its maintenance.
It is uncertain which public body would be interested in taking the tunnel off the DfT's hands, considering its limited potential uses.
Kidsgrove railway campaigner Jon Honeysett does not believe the tunnel could have any heritage use.
The 70-year-old, from Talke Pits, who was made an MBE for services to rail, said: "I understand the tunnel was closed because there wasn't enough room for the overhead electric cables.
"I think there were also some issues with subsidence because of the old mines in the area.
"I'm not sure what the tunnel could be used for now. I know of two old rail tunnels on the Meon Valley Line, in Hampshire, which were turned into a mushroom farm.
"I think it was only short-lived, but at least they tried to find some new use for them.
"Those tunnels did have good road access though, so I'm not sure the same thing could be done with this one."
Other notable properties listed for sale on the 'Government space' website include Meir and Tunstall health centres, and the old court house in Sandbach.