Bourne's Tunnel at Sj5033491804, St Helens
Description: Bourne's Tunnel at Sj5033491804
Date Listed: 5 March 2010
English Heritage Building ID: 507533
OS Grid Reference: SJ5033991815
OS Grid Coordinates: 350339, 391815
Latitude/Longitude: 53.4208, -2.7487
Location: St Helens WA9 5FX
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BOURNE'S TUNNEL AT SJ5033491804
Tunnel built to carry colliery tramway underneath the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Line, late 1820s, possibly by Thomas L. Gooch with Jesse Hartley, 104 ft long, coursed red sandstone, skew design.
LOCATION: Approximately 1km east of Rainhill station.
EXTERIOR: South portal with single span segmental arch with vermiculated rusticated voussoirs set at a skew angle, retaining wall above with slightly projecting flat ashlar copings. Right side of portal arch is obscured by a short side abutment wing, longer left abutment wing with flat ashlar copings; both wings with plain short terminal piers. North portal is buried and is not visible.
INTERIOR: Horseshoe-arched stone lined interior, skew alters to straight alignment approximately 6m into the tunnel.
HISTORY: On 1 January 1824 John, James & Peter Bourne, merchants of Liverpool, and their partner Robert Robinson, a Sutton coal proprietor, leased 20 acres of land in Rainhill from Bartholomew Bretherton, a local landowner and stagecoach proprietor. Permission was granted by Bretherton for them to construct a 'railed way' from their collieries in Sutton, which passed through part of the Rainhill land to the Liverpool-Warrington turnpike road (Warrington Road) where they installed a weighing machine and stockpiled coal.
When the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Line (the earliest locomotive passenger line in the world) was being constructed in the late 1820s under the supervision of the engineer, George Stephenson, the directors recommended that the colliery tramway should cross under the line through a tunnel, which became known as Bourne's Tunnel.
It is not known exactly who designed Bourne's Tunnel, but it is believed that many of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Line's bridges were designed by George Stephenson's apprentice, Thomas L. Gooch, aided by the Liverpool dock engineer, Jesse Hartley.
The Sutton collieries were later connected to the St Helens & Runcorn Gap Railway (operational from 1833) and the tramway and turnpike road became increasingly obsolete. The Bourne brothers and Robert Robinson consequently surrendered their lease in 1844 and the tramway was dismantled.
F Dickinson, A History of Transport Through Rainhill (1979). 24-25.
R H G Thomas, The Liverpool & Manchester Railway (1980).
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Bourne's Tunnel is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historical: It is one of the earliest tunnel structures of the railway age, constructed in the late 1820s on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Line, which is regarded as the earliest locomotive passenger line in the world.
* Architectural: The tunnel is a well executed construction displaying engineering skill in its angled design, and attention to aesthetic detail, articulated by the use of dressed stonework to the archway voussoirs.
* Group value: It has strong group value with the nearby Grade II listed Skew Bridge at Rainhill (1828-9), Ropers Bridge at Knowsley (c.1829), four other railway bridges at Huyton with Roby (c.1829), and Rainhill Station (1860-68). Together they form a significant group of railway structures that represent the development of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway Line, and the British railway network in general.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.