Club Visits - Wirral & District Amateur Radio Club

Mersey Tunnel Visit - 20th April 2006

 

Phil, G6IIM has been organising some excellent Club visits over the years and this one has been on our 'wish list' for some time.  It must be almost 20 years since a WADARC party last visited the Mersey Tunnel complex and with this latest visit Phil did us proud.

A Potted History

Cross river traffic (Liverpool - Birkenhead) had been previously established by ferry, and later in 1885 the opening of the Mersey Railway tunnel added considerable capacity.  The increase of horse drawn transport followed by early motor vehicle traffic created increasing queue's of vehicles waiting to use the ferries.  Suggestions for solving the problem were put forward, but not until the economic prosperity of the region began to suffer in 1922 was a proposal put before Liverpool City Council to begin discussions with all the various local boroughs to come up with a viable solution.  Many elaborate proposals were considered, but work finally began in December 1925, although it wasn't until 1933 that a bill was successfully passed before Parliament for powers to borrow the money required, and set the period over which tolls could be charged.  Although the undertaking was without parallel in engineering history, the engineers had at least the benefit and experience of constructing the Mersey Railway Tunnel between 1881 and 1885 and the records were of great assistance. The Birkenhead to Liverpool Tunnel under the River Mersey was opened to traffic on the 18th July 1934 by His Majesty King George V.  The construction had cost nearly 8m and taken 9 years to complete.

The Tunnel is a single tube 2.31 miles long and carries 4 lanes of traffic, two in each direction, with the width of roadway between kerbs of 36 feet.  The internal diameter is 44 feet with the the lowest point of the tunnel under mid-river at high water being 170 feet. During excavation 1,200,000 tons of rock and gravel were taken out using 560,000 lbs of explosive.  The tunnel is lined with 82,000 tons of cast iron and 270,000 tons of concrete. It took 78 miles of lighting cable, 4 miles of power cable, 300 miles of control cable and 201 miles of telephone and signalling cable.  This has since been augmented with CCTV and computer control links.

Our thanks to our guide Gerry Reed, for an excellent presentation and tour, and for his patience with our many questions.  We also thank Merseytravel for allowing us to visit this amazing engineering masterpiece. 

The following photographs represent only an evening's visit by the Wirral & District Amateur
Radio Club and are not meant or intended in any way to be a historical reference of this
outstanding example of one of the world's greatest engineering undertakings.

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For more information:-
 

The Mersey Tunnels website

Mersey Tunnel Live Webcams

Some history from the Mersey Tunnels Users Association

 

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