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The Peak Forest Tramroad (or Tramway)was a horse-worked plateway that connected quarries in the Dove Holes area with the head of the Peak Forest Canal at Buxworth (formerly Bugsworth). It was in operation from 1796 until the mid-1920s and included several significant engineering features including an inclined plane at Chapel-en-le-Frith and this tunnel at Stodhart, which took the tramway beneath Hayfield Road (the A624) and the grounds of Stodhart Lodge. Although the tramway was mainly double track, the stretch through the tunnel was single. This is the southern portal, the northern end having been obliterated by road widening in 1949. Until 2013 it was thought to be the oldest railway tunnel in the world but it is now believed that a similar structure on the tramroad linking Bull Bridge with Crich pre-dates it by three years. It is listed Grade II*.
The following information is transcribed from another online source and provides additional detail:
'Stodhart Tunnel on the Peak Forest Tramway is situated between Stodhart Lodge and Stodhart Farm at Chapel Milton, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. At this point on the proposed line of the tramway there is a gritstone ridge and in 1795 Benjamin Outram and Thomas Brown were faced with the problem of either making an open cutting or a narrow-bore tunnel through it. In the end the owners of Stodhart Lodge, who had no desire to have an open tramway so close to their property, made the choice for them.
The civil engineering work involved was well understood by this time and it was common practice on canals and in mines but this tunnel is one of the earliest features of its kind on a feeder tramway to a canal. The design of the tunnel was similar to the designs used on canal tunnels of the era with elliptical side walls, constructed of dressed gritstone. The portals at each end were built slightly later than the interior of the tunnel, a situation brought about by the owners of Stodhart Lodge who wanted it made longer in order to improve their privacy from the tramway.
As built, the tunnel was about 88 yards long and its height is 7-feet 6-inches. Its width at track level is 9-feet and at the spring of the arch it is 10-feet wide. Its width meant that it could only accommodate a single track.
By 1803, due to an increase in trade, the track of the Peak Forest Tramway was converted from single to double-track operation but the tunnel was never widened and it remained in single-track operation throughout its working life. Because of this, the Peak Forest Canal Company, who owned the tramway, introduced special regulations for the passage of waggons through it. These caused hold-ups and, as a result, waggoners began to ignore them. As a consequence, one of the first recorded railway accidents happened here shortly afterwards. A gang of six loaded waggons were being hauled up the tramway in the direction of Chapel-en-le-Frith when they broke loose from the horse team and rolled back into the tunnel. Here they struck a two-horse team hauling empty waggons in the same direction. Both horses were killed and the waggoner's apprentice was seriously injured. It took several days to clear the tunnel and re-open the tramway. The canal company held an enquiry into the causes of this accident and the apprentice was held responsible for causing the accident as he had failed to comply with the correct time interval between waggon gangs going through the tunnel.'