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Famous Wiltshire engineering achievement to be protected thanks to National Heritage programme
12:10am Monday 30th July 2012 in News
Brunel's Box Tunnel is one of 35 buildings running along the Great Western main line to receive listed status thanks to a National Heritage programme.
Work started on the famous railway tunnel, between Bath and Chippenham, in 1836 and opened in 1841.
It is part of the route from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads and has been awarded grade II listed status following a campaign by English Heritage to safeguard historic railway buildings, bridges and tunnels.
The tunnel is 1.83 miles (2,937m) long and when it opened it was the longest railway tunnel in the world.
The western portal, near Box, is designed in a grand classical style, while the eastern portal, at Corsham, is of more modest brick and stone.
Another notable landmark which has been given grade II status is the Roman Road Bridge in Swindon while another seven structures along the line have seen their status upgraded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport.
Heritage Minister John Penrose said: “Our railways and the historic buildings that go along with them are a wonderful and emotive part of our national heritage, symbolising for many of us a sense of romance, history and adventure.
“Nowhere more so than perhaps on the Great Western Railway. I am very pleased to be able to give these buildings, bridges and tunnels the extra protection that listing provides.”
Construction on the line, which used designs by famous railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, began in 1836 and English Heritage said it was pleased that so many structures along the route will receive listed status.
Emily Gee, head of designation at English Heritage, said: “This scale of consultation on designation cases is unusual for English Heritage and we were delighted with the thoughtful responses we received from railway history experts, local authorities and other heritage bodies.
“I am also impressed by Network Rail’s commitment to respecting the special structures in their care.”
The group plan to identify more buildings on rail lines across the country which are worthy of listed status as part of the English Heritage Protection Plan.
The Great Western main line, which was built to open up routes between Bristol and London, is currently undergoing a series of improvements under a Network Rail ten-year programme, scheduled to finish in 2017, which will see parts of the historic line electrified.