Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2PQ
Located under the streets of Newcastle, Victoria Tunnel operated between 1842 and 1860 as a wagonway, creating a route between the Town Moor to the Tyne. This route was perfect for transporting coal from the mine to the river.
The Victoria Tunnel was built in 1838 by Porter & Latimer who were the owners of the Leazes Main Colliery at the time, and they arranged for construction to begin during 1834. The Tunnel took 8 years to construct, and was completed in 1842.
The opening of the tunnel was celebrated with a cannon salute and a party in the Bigg Market for all the workers to acknowledge their achievement and hard work.
Around 18 years after opening, the Victoria Tunnel, the pit became closed and the equipment and goods transported through the tunnel were no longer in use. The tunnel became redundant and unused for a further 18 years until 1878 when the river end of the tunnel was demolished in order to build the Glass House Bridge.
Just over 50 years later, an entrepreneur called Thomas Moore decided to start growing mushrooms in the tunnel but unfortunately this failed and the tunnel closed again only 1 year later.
In 1939 the war began, and the tunnel was used as an air raid shelter for locals. The tunnel was adjusted to accommodate the needs of people hiding in the shelter and bunk beds, benches, electric lighting and chemical toilets were installed.
Blast walls were also built to help reinforce the tunnel and make it safe for the people of Newcastle during the air raids. When the war ended in 1945, all entrances were closed off except one in Ouseburn, leaving the tunnel with no purpose again until 1976 when it was partly converted into a sewer.
In 2006, Lottery funding allowed the tunnel to be restored and opened to the public. The tunnel now welcomes over 10,000 visitors every year and regular tours are available.