See inside the abandoned Yorkshire railway tunnel that became an air raid shelter

Stalactites and the indentations where the railway sleepers once lay can still be seen in the tunnel.
Stalactites and the indentations where the railway sleepers once lay can still be seen in the tunnel.

It was abandoned 146 years ago - but this fascinating railway tunnel in Harrogate took on a much darker function in later years.

The Brunswick Tunnel - a relic of the mothballed Harrogate to Church Fenton line - was used as an underground air raid shelter during World War Two and still survives today, although the entrances have been sealed.

This blast wall was built inside the tunnel to provide extra protection

This blast wall was built inside the tunnel to provide extra protection

Man digs up unexploded WW2 shell in his Harrogate garden
The Victorian railway was diverted down the tunnel, which is 400 yards long, because of concerns that it would cause noise and visual pollution in the genteel spa town if trains were allowed to cross The Stray.

The passage ran from Hornbeam Park Station to the Leeds Road/Park Drive roundabout, beneath Langcliffe Avenue. A station called Brunswick was also built, but the route was only in operation for 14 years before a new Harrogate Station was built in the town centre and the original terminus became redundant.

A section of the tunnel at the Leeds Road end was brought back into use as a public shelter in 1939, when the threat of bombing loomed, and a concrete stairway was built to provide access from ground level. It had 6ft-high blast walls, wooden benches, toilets and electric lighting. It was disused by 1943, when the likelihood of raids had diminished.

Harrogate was only attacked once during the war, when a single German plane released three bombs over the town and the Majestic Hotel was hit. In 1954, the Ministry of Defence surveyed the tunnel for use as an engineering works, but this plan never came to fruition.

The sealed-off tunnel entrance

The sealed-off tunnel entrance

The blocked-up tunnel entrance is on private land.

The concrete stairway was built down to the tunnel in the 1930s

The concrete stairway was built down to the tunnel in the 1930s