Fritchley tunnel declared Grade II listed

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A railway tunnel – which was last year confirmed as the oldest in the world – has been listed.

Fritchley tunnel had been boarded-up for more than 30 years before being declared the world’s oldest by official adjudicators from the Guinness World Book of Records in October 2014.

It has now been declared as a Grade II listed building by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of English Heritage.

As reported previously by the Matlock Mercury, there were hopes that a section of track which lies on the route of the Butterley Gangroad, a horse-operated railway built by 1793, would prove to be among the earliest ever found.

Derbyshire Archaeological Society presented the evidence to the Guinness World Book of Records which said it was satisfied that the claim is justified.

The previous record holder, which was also located in Derbyshire at Chapel Milton, is at least two years younger.

More than 100 people carried out the research work to establish the exact age of the tunnel including state-of-the-art laser scan technology experts.

Enthusiast Trevor Griffin, who is the manager of the Butterley Gangroad Project, said he was was delighted that the tunnel had been listed.

“It is really pleasing to hear it has been recognised in this way,” he said.

Tony Calladine, of English Heritage, added: “This is an incredible survival of our railway heritage designed by Benjamin Outram – an important figure who greatly influenced the development of railways in Derbyshire and across England.

“He was one of the first to recognise the potential of railways to provide a nationwide transport system which would bind the country together and the Butterley Gangroad was where he first developed the ideas which were soon adopted across Britain.”

“Considering a few years ago it was nothing more than a hole in the ground that no-one knew about, it is pretty good going that we have now seen it listed.”

Earlier this year, Mr Griffin expressed his delight at having the world record confirmed and highlighted the dedication of individuals and organisations that had helped raise awareness of the tunnel.

He said at the time: “It’s brilliant that we have gained a world record for this tunnel which had been lost and overlooked in the past.

“The success is a great credit to the many individuals, firms and organisations who have supported the project.”