The destination for history

Recollections of the Sapperton Canal Tunnel


The Sapperton Canal Tunnel is on the Thames and Severn Canal near Cirencester in Gloucestershire. A very historically important structure, the tunnel was completed on 20 April 1789 after five years of construction and being 3,817 yards in length (2.17 miles, 3.39 km) was the longest tunnel of any kind in England until 1811. The tunnel burrows under the highest point of the Cotswold Hills, at its deepest being 70yds (65m) below ground, and its building enabled goods to be transferred along the canal which was a very important source of employment for many.

These voices recall the days before cars and lorries were used to transport goods, bringing to life just how vital the canal was in terms of connection and industry. The recollections take you back to a time in history that is long forgotten but for these people and many others just like them, it was a way of life with the canal, and therefore the tunnel, being the lifeblood of their worlds.

Today the tunnel remains impassable, as it has done since around 1916, due to numerous roof falls. Both portals in Coates and Daneway remain visible to this day which is down to the fundraising and work of the Cotswolds Canal Trust.

Listen to Mrs Emily Elliot of Frampton Mansell (aged 84 when recorded c.1961) and Mrs Lily Moss of Lechlade (recorded c. 1965) share their memories of canal life and the Sapperton Tunnel in the video below, accompanied by images of the tunnel past and present.

With thanks to Saydisc Records for the audio - taken from Steam and Harness: Recollections of past methods of power and transport on the Cotswolds

You might also be interested in:

Sign up for our newsletter

show more books