Hiding a railway

The Stray, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

The Stray, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

One of the glories of Harrogate is The Stray, over two hundred acres of green space set aside by the Forest of Knaresborough Enclosure Act of 1780 so that the area “would for ever hereafter remain open and unenclosed, and all persons whomsoever shall and may have free access at all times to the said springs, and be at liberty to use and drink the Waters there arising, and take the benefit thereof…”

Recurrent battles have been fought since then to keep the Stray as free as possible of public conveniences, road-widening and other incursions.  Of these controversies the most difficult was over bringing a much-needed direct railway to the town.

The Harrogate view was that trains should neither seen nor heard.  When the York & North Midland Railway reached the town, it tunnelled under Langwith Avenue south of the Stray and opened its Harrogate terminus at Brunswick Station, south of the West Park Stray, in July 1848.

Eventually, in the early 1860s a through line was built across the Stray in an unobtrusive shallow cutting.

Brunswick Station closed in 1862 and completely disappeared.  Its site was filled in and handed over as part of the Stray.  Not a single photograph of the buildings has been found.  The site is marked only by a small stone plaque.

However, the approach tunnel remains.  Even though it hasn’t seen a train since shortly after 1862 it remains in good condition, and the indentations of the sleepers are still visible in the ballast.  Part of it was used as a Second World War air-raid shelter until 1943.

It is practically inaccessible, but was surveyed and recorded and by the Leeds Historical Expedition Society in January 2008 and by Subterranea Britannica in the following September.  Comprehensive illustrations of its present condition can be found at http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/sites/b/brunswick_tunnel/index.shtml
http://www.lostrailwayswestyorkshire.co.uk/Leeds%20Harrogate.htm, http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=265602590&blogID=351327703 with additional material at http://www.aeden.plus.com/norwood/frames.htm.

What remains of the approach to the former Brunswick Station is strictly private and off-limits to the general public.


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