Huddersfield Chronicle (06/Oct/1866) – Landslip on the Meltham Railway

Landslip on the Meltham Railway.

On Monday evening an extensive landslip occurred in Dungeon Wood, on the branch line of railway in course of construction from Huddersfield to Meltham. Within a short distance from the junction of the new line, with the line to Penistone commences a deep and heavy cutting through Dungeon Wood to the entrance of Butter Nab Tunnel. The deepest part of this cutting is almost immediately in the rear of Woodfield House, the residence of Bentley Shaw, Esq., whose stables, coach-house, and other outbuildings are situate at the foot of the slope on the lower side of the cutting. Between these and the top of the lower edge of the cutting, which is about eight yards high from the level of the line, are two strong burr walls, one belonging to the railway company and the other forming a fence of the private road to Mr. Shaw’s residence. Between these walls are a number of traes and poles. The cutting is a very heavy one, the upper side being between 30 and 40 yards in height, the top portion formed of heavy block stone, while the lower bed is composed of “scale” or loose shale. The sides of this cutting were left nearly perpendicular, but no danger was apprehended of any fall till very recently, little or nothing having been done at the Lock wood end of the cutting for nearly twelve months. On Monday morning, the men went to work, and the “gauger” or overlooker, Mr. Brook, observing indications of the slackening of the shale on the upper side of the cutting, was on the look-out all day. In the meantime he caused all the metals, sleepers, and other working plant to be removed from the place, and towards the middle of the afternoon noticed the servants of Mr. Shaw to remove their stock, &c. from the outbuildings for fear of mischief. At a quarter to eight o’clock the misgivings of the overlooker were verified. A loud crashing, crumbling noise was heard, together with the bounding of huge masses of stone and rock immediately behind Woodfield House. On examination it was found that the upper side of the cutting had given way for about forty yards in length, the rock, shale, &c., completely filling up the cutting, and heaping masses of stone higher than the lower side of it. Many massive stones, some of them yards in length, were rolled down the lower slope towards the stables of Mr. Shaw, but their force being broken by the company’s retaining wall — which was knocked down for fifty yards in length — and intercepted by the trees, no damage was done. The cutting for thirty or forty yards is entirely blocked up with immense masses of rock and stone. The weight of the debris is immense, and will take some time to remove it. The removal, however, will not be attempted until the entire cutting is completed, as the mass of stone and rubbish will have to be removed to the Netherton side, there being no place to deposit it on the Lockwood side of Butter Nab Tunnel, which is about 500 yards from the scene of the slip. The cause of the disaster is attributed to the late continuous rains having penetrated through the ground to the lower bed of shale, which it loosened, and rendered unable to bear the superincumbent weight of rock above it. Beyond the time required for its removal, no loss will be sustained by the contractors, Messrs. Barnes and Beckett.