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I recently visited the Bridgehouses end of the tunnel as i didn't even know where it was. It is visible from the opposite side of Derek Dooley Way (once you know what you are looking for anyway!) It is easily accessible from under the nearby arches. However for a Grade 2 listed structure there is no information on site or protection in place. I will try to return on a bright day and take some photos but it is quite overgrown.

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In the sixties and later this tunnel was used as a route for an oxygen pipeline that fed bulk supplies of oxygen to steelworks in the uper and lower Don Valleys. I followed it's path at different times all the way down the Don back to British Oxygen at Brinsworth.

I believe at around the same time it was in use as a shooting range for a while. I don't suppose a small bore bullet would be a threat to a steel pipeline.


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There is a six page article on "Fiery Jack" in Issue 200 of the Journal of the Railway & Canal History Society, Volume 35 Part 10.

A few bits of info from the article:

The original tunnel was approximately 370 yards long with a gradient (according to the MIdland Railway's records) of 1 in 25 for all but the last 70 yards which was level. This was very steep for an adhesion worked railway, especially in the 1840s.

In March 1848 the side wall of the tunnel at the Bridgehouses end collapsed and brought down the tunnel arch. Rather than replace the collapsed section the level section was opened out and the Bridgehouses portal moved and rebuilt at the end of the truncated 301 yard tunnel.

The tunnel was built with double track (with the uphill line designated as the "down" line and the downhill line being the "up") but at some point in the late 19th century operation was changed to single line working, although the other line was retained for some time, unused.

The line fell into disuse just after the second world war, one source quoting July 1947 as the final closure as a railway line.

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The only "Fiery Jack" I ever came across was an old patent ointment for the relief of muscular pains which was once very popular in the North of England....latterly taken off the market by EU regulations! ....It was so hot when applied that I believe it may well have been the source of the nickname for a tunnel which ,when on the footplate of an engine tackling the 1 in 25 gradient,would have been equally as hot!🙄

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