Following visiting the Environment Agency Midlands HQ in October last year – see http://www.michael.fabricant.mp.co.uk/news-001174.ihtml – and hearing about the Hanch Tunnel, Michael Fabricant asked to see the Tunnel which travels almost 4 miles beneath Lichfield at a depth of between 10 and a 130 feet underground. It was built 1853 and 1867.
“This was a magnificent piece of engineering at the time”, says Michael. “It carried water to the Sandfields Pumping Station from the pumping station at Seedy Mill and helped save many lives locally as the clean water it provided helped reduce infection from killer diseases like typhoid and cholera.
“We have incredible history beneath our feet”, Michael adds.
Michael was told about the construction of the tunnel by Chris Pattison a local historian and archivist and a former employee of the South Staffordshire Water Company before descending into the tunnel.
“It was a shame we couldn’t make our way along the tunnel, but it was flooded near to the top and carbon dioxide and methane gas levels were too high” says a disappointed Michael Fabricant.
1) Michael descending into Hanch Tunnel as far as it was safe
2) Outside one of the shafts into the Hanch Tunnel from left to right: Darren Compton South Staffordshire Water Company (SSW) Engineer, Phil Newland SSW Managing Director, Chris Pattison Archivist and member Lichfield Waterworks Trust, Michael Fabricant, Richard Austen Environment Agency (EA) Team Leader, Joanne Emberson-Wines EA Planning, and Alex Martin SSW Head of Water Strategy.