Clifton Hall Tunnel

This tunnel has a rich but fraught history. Constructed in the 1846 it formed part of the Patricroft to Molyneux Junction line.

Clifton Hall Tunnel

Location: Swinton, Greater Manchester 

Status: Seeking planning permission for work from Salford City Council 


Also known as ‘Black Harry Tunnel’ it was operational for passengers and goods traffic when it opened. Following a partial collapse on 13 April 1953 all trains were stopped and inspection carried out. Two weeks after the first initial brickwork collapse, following further land movement and cracking, the tunnel roof failed, directly beneath an old construction shaft.  

View of the tunnel in the 1950s, following the collapse

(View of the tunnel in April 1953, following the collapse)

Witness accounts on our records from residents living on the road above the tunnel described hearing a loud cracking noise underground at 5:35am, followed by two houses, numbers 22 and 24 Temple Drive, collapsing to the ground. The tragedy resulted in five fatalities and subsequently, numbers 20 and 26 Temple Drive were later demolished. The tunnel was never reopened and has been partially infilled to prevent any further risk to people.  

Clifton Hall Tunnel during infilling

(Clifton Hall tunnel during infilling) 

About the structure

The double track tunnel measures 1187m long and is lined throughout with brick. The tunnel is horseshoe shaped in cross section with a maximum internal width of 7.54m and height of 6.78m.  Its construction was difficult from the beginning as the ground was very unstable where mining had already taken place.  

There were several rounds of remedial works including the addition of steel ribbing to provide additional support to much of the tunnel. 

The surrounding area was subject to intense urbanisation with the need for homes being built directly above the tunnel. Following the shaft collapse the tunnel was partially infilled in 1959.   

What is the project?

Completion of infill in the tunnel where voids remain.  

View of Temple Drive above where the shaft collapsed

(View of Temple Drive above where the shaft collapsed)

What stage is it at?

Following full Stakeholder Advisory Forum (SAF) discussion the Secretary of State for Transport has approved our recommendation to seek planning permission to complete the infilling of the tunnel.  

We’ll submit an application to Salford City Council in due course.  

We’re in discussion with all relevant stakeholders about our proposal and will regularly update this page when we have further information to share.  

Clifton Hall tunnel memorial at south west of tunnel's now buried portal

(Clifton Hall tunnel memorial at south west of tunnel's now buried portal)