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  1. ITV Report

Derby tunnel officially the oldest in the world

The tunnel in Fritchley dates back to 1793 Photo: ITV News Central

A railway tunnel in Derbyshire has officially been recorded as the oldest in the world.

The tunnel in Fritchley dates back to 1793 and will feature in The Guinness World Book of Records.

The Fritchley tunnel in Derbyshire is over 200 years old Credit: ITV News Central

Local railway enthusiast, 66-year-old Trevor Griffin, said the news was 'one of the biggest things' in his life:

To us enthusiasts it is quite a shock! It is brilliant that we have gained a world record for this tunnel, which had been lost and overlooked in the past.

The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Derbyshire Archeological Society came together for the project, where over 100 residents and rail enthusiasts conducted work to establish the age of the tunnel.

Wessex Archeology even created a virtual model using laser technology.

The tunnel in Fritchley dates back to 1793 Credit: ITV News Central

A few facts about the Fritchley tunnel:

  • The line closed in 1933
  • It was later blocked up in the 1980's but re-opened after a year to allow archeological investigation
  • The tunnel was part of the Butterley Gangroad - a horse-operated rail line
  • The line used to link the Cromford Canal with limestone quarries at Crich in Derbyshire
  • The tunnel was originally 25 metres long / 2.5 metres wide / 3.2 metres high

Derbyshire Archeological Society member, Freda Raphail, said:

I am delighted because it has been a very enjoyable project!

Previously, it had been thought that the oldest surviving railway tunnel was also in Derbyshire, but in the north of the county at Chapel Milton.

Mr Griffin talked more about the group effort it took to establish the age of the tunnel and went on to say:

It has been a lot of hard work getting everything together but it has also been very important. It is great to share that enthusiasm and interest with other people in the group and other residents.