South End - Crick Tunnel - Leicester Arm - Grand Union Canal, Crick, Northamptonshire, UK
Posted by: Dragontree
N 52° 19.893 W 001° 07.976
30U E 627220 N 5799556
Quick Description: Crick Tunnel was notoriously difficult to build and opened in 1814. It lies on the Grand Union Canal's Leicester Arm. Here we see the south entrance. The tunnel is 1397m long and brick lined.
Location: East Midlands, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 7/7/2012 5:05:31 AM
Waymark Code: WMETV2
The Grand Union Canal splits into different Arms and here at Crick the Leicester Arm lies to the east of the village with Crick Tunnel in the south east. Along this stretch of the canal there is the marina at Crick where an annual boat show is held.
This Arm of the canal is not in its original, planned position. It was thought that the canal could pass to the west of the village but this was not practical and the route we see today was quickly created.
It was in 1808 that the idea was formed to create the Arm of the Grand Union Canal from Braunston to Market Harborough. Businessmen and local landowners met to suggest different routes; these included Crick to Hillmorton, Crick to Willoughby or Braunston and Crick to Norton.
It was the Crick to Norton route which was selected with a planned 946-yard tunnel and a shortened line via the valleys around Crick with additional embankments. In 1810 work began with two local brick makers chosen to supply the 2 million bricks needed for the tunnel costing 32 Shillings for each thousand. There were over 350 men employed on the canal's construction by the 23rd March in 1811 who were paid per cubic yard of earth that was dug and wheeled.
Unfortunately a major problem in November 1811 was discovered when test boring showed strata faults with loose sand. The tunnel had already been started with the digging of a deep cutting. All of the work had to be abandoned, after much discussion, and a new route to the east of Crick was quickly planned. Today there is still a cutting noticeable at the original site from Well Hills to Tunnel Farm.
The new route was not without its difficulties. In October 1813 over half of the tunnel we see today was constructed but a fall at shaft no. 10 saw a man die in an accident. Eventually on 29th July 1814 the tunnel was completed and it was opened on 9th August 1814.
Ongoing problems ensued with brick falls inside the tunnel within the first year of operational use. Further falls in 1847 and 1854 saw minor damage. However, in 1867 a whole section of the tunnel collapsed during repair work, causing the tunnel's closure for some weeks. During this period many tradesmen lost money as their busy route was now blocked.
Further information can be read in the interesting book by Philip A Stevens called “The Leicester Line”, published in 1972. Also, this excellent article is where we have discovered this fascinating history: visit link