History of travel the Pennine way.
THE history of transport across the Pennines was brought into focus at a meeting of Holme Valley Civic Society.
Guest speaker, local historian David Cockman, explained that Standedge ('stone edge'), near Marsden, was chosen as the most suitable point to cross the Pennine Chain in this area.
There were only three-and-a-half miles separating Marsden in the east from Diggle in the west, making this crossing by far the shortest one possible.
Towards the end of the first century AD, the Romans, led by Agricola, the Governor of Britain, built a road across the Pennines to link the Roman camps at Chester and York.
Forts, including Castleshaw to the west of the Pennines and Slack, at Outlane, to the east, were constructed at intervals between the two legionary bases.
In medieval times packhorse routes were built to transport goods over the Pennines. Eastergate Bridge near Marsden is one such route and another of the packhorse trails were actually built on top of part of the Roman road.
But, in the eighteenth century, turnpike roads were replacing packhorse trails as the horses could no longer cope w loads they had to carry. B Knaresborough was an autho pike roads and was the builder three of these roads from Mar Pennines to Lancashire. with the heavy Blind Jack of ority on turnr of the first of rsden over the orr However, in the 1820s and 1 of stagecoaches on turnpike ro 1830s the days oads were coming o to an end. Tunnels were build under Pule Hill, first for a canal and later for a railway.
The canal tunnel was a great achievement.
Construction started in 1794 and in 1811 the three-and-a-half-mile tunnel was opened with boats being moved through the tunnel by 'legging'.
The tunnel had been completed by Thomas Telford and its opening was celebrated with a big dinner in The George Hotel.
The Canal Company was finally making a profit and paying dividends when the railway age began. At first there was only one rail track under Pule Hill, but eventually four tracks, just over three miles long, meant that four trains could travel through Pule Hill at the same time, two travelling eastwards and two westwards.
This was the situation until 1966 when Dr Beeching closed two of the four tracks as part of his policy to make the railways pay, leaving the double track still open and still in use today.
LEGGING IT: The traditio o onal way of manouevring a boat through the Standedge Tunnel, but soon steam trains were speeding through the Pennines * ENGINEERING WONDER: Barges enter the Standedge Tunnel at Tunnel End, Marsden ( * ENGINEERING WONDER: Barges enter the Standedge Tunnel at Tunnel End, Marsden (S)