Railway author to apply for listing status for Catesby Tunnel

John Healy is hopeful of getting the 1897 tunnel listed.
John Healy is hopeful of getting the 1897 tunnel listed.

An author and publisher of railway books has promised to submit an application to get the Catesby Tunnel listed, just days after the Government awarded developers £4.2million to convert it into an aerodynamic testing facility.

John Healy, 52, is adamant the tunnel should be protected to some degree because it is representative of England's heritage, with features worthy of preservation.

The twin-track railway line has been disused for more than half a century and Brackley-based firm Aero Research Partners has decided to remodel the 2.7km-long, perfectly straight tunnel into a one-of-a-kind facility.

“I have been doing some investigation into getting the structure listed because I think it’s a site of such historical heritage,” said Mr Healy, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

“Putting it bluntly I think I’m going to do it because basically it’s a disgrace. It’s a heritage site and it’s not being treated with respect by the developers and Daventry District Council.”

Mr Healy is upset by plans to line the tunnel with sheet metal and cover the railway tracks with asphalt because he believes the brickwork and inlets inside the tunnel should be preserved and displayed to the public.

The developers hope to rent out the facility to engineering companies but Mr Healy feels that the site could be open to the public when it's not being used for testing.

He suggests that instead of using sheet metal a transparent material could line the tunnel enabling visitors to catch a glimpse of the brickwork.

“I think it’s important to get somebody that will look after it and use it because it’s been abandoned for 51 years," said Mr Healy.

"If getting the building listed is what it takes then so be it."

According to Mr Healy the railway line which runs through the tunnel was meant to be part of the Channel Tunnel line.

Based on his research it would have created a link between Manchester, Lincoln, London and Dover.

The National Heritage List for England processes listing applications before they are sent to the Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Government will then consider a variety of factors before listing it which include architectural or historic interests such as its design, decoration and craftmanship, its age, rarity, aesthetic merits and whether it illustrates important aspects of the nation’s social, economic, cultural, or military history.