This article was written by Lee Holland who is the tunnel manager and works for the Highways Agency who have responsibility for it on behalf of the Westminster Dept. for Transport. The article is in the Welsh Railway Research Circle's archive, Vol. 3 p. 142 of 6th. Nov. 2002. (www.wrrc.org.uk). Lee has access to much of the historic documentation about the tunnel held by the Highways Agency.
Whilst meetings have had to be postponed, the monthly air quality monitoring visits to the tunnel continue. We have done three so far and there are lots of photos of them in the gallery (go to Media -> Gallery -> Air Quality Monitoring). We test for Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Explosive Gases, Oxygen concentration and Volatile Organic Compounds. So far we have found no trace of any noxious or explosive gases. So long as we continue to get these results throughout the year, we will have a library of positive results. When a portal is opened, it should not be necessary to do a long re-test on air quality which could delay re-opening possibly by up to a year. We shall continue to report on these visits on Facebook after each one.
Over the weekend, Steve Mackey & I decided that we would offer to postpone the meeting on the Tunnel’s future arranged for 23rd. March with the Deputy Ministers of Economy & Transport and Culture, Media & Sport because the Welsh Govt. clearly has more urgent priorities at present. The leaders of NPT & RCT who have both been invited have agreed, so therefore the meeting will not go ahead until the current situation has eased.
We have decided to postpone the Annual General Meeting for 2020 because of the current situation with COVID-19. We shall choose a revised date as soon as the situation improves.
We have also been in touch with the Welsh Govt. offering to postpone two meetings that were scheduled for the next two weeks as we expect that they will have more urgent matters to deal with.
The Rhondda Tunnel will be featured in one of Lazerbeams productions, 'Hidden Wales' with presenter Will Millard. Tunnel Chairman Steve Mackey spent the whole day in the Tunnel with the film crew to help produce the programme. See dates above. Don't miss this, it's spectacular!
On Friday, December 1st, the Rhondda Tunnel Society along with 'Hammonds' of Aberdare, who represent Highways England, Richard Storey of Balfour Beatty (Tunnels Examining Engineer) Steve Jones (RTS Engineer) Graeme Bickerdike (Journalist and Photographer) along with the obligatory Mines Rescue Team (Dinas) assembled ready to enter the Rhondda Tunnel. At about 9.30 am on a bitterly cold day, it was time to enter.
The First Team to enter was Hammonds who's task was to measure the Airshaft to find out the diameter so the new cap can be designed which will be installed early next year. Team two then entered, Steve Jones, Richards Story, Jim Maggs and myself. As only Two teams were allowed to enter at the same Time, Team Three, Tony Moon and Graeme Bickerdike entered after Team 1 (Hammonds) ascended to the surface.
In all the times I have been fortunate enough to enter the Tunnel, the worse part is the crawl through the narrow pipe from the inspection chamber to the Tunnel. I have mentioned a few times to my colleagues and Mines Rescue that we should use a skateboard to get through the pipe which has always been met with laughter, sniggers and a few skeptical groans. So this visit, I decided try out my idea or invention.
The skateboard was donated to the Society by Helen Pick of Elegance Treorchy. So I drilled a hole at the front and back of the board and tied enough nylon rope each side of it so it could be pulled back and fore through the pipe. The time came to try it. Billy Teague (Mines Rescue) crawled through the pipe closely followed by the skateboard as he took the rope through with him. I indicated I was on laying on the board and was ready to be transported into the Tunnel.
With minimal effort, I was catapulted through the pipe in three seconds flat. No crawling, no exertion, no puffing or panting or grunting. PURE GENIUS! Everyone including Mines Rescue agreed that it was the bees knees. The fastest through was Jim Maggs. He shot through like a torpedo out of a tube! We had a job to catch him! Once in the Tunnel the duties of the Officers began. A long hard day unfolded, but we all realise how privileged we all are to be in the Tunnel. The day ended in the dark at about 5.00pm. Next: The Detailed Survey early next Year.
This coming Sunday will see the Treorchy Community voting for their chosen Charities or Project at the Boys and Girls Club, Treorchy. This is you chance to help the Society win the awards they have applied for. There are 4 categories, and the Society has entered the 4. You have 1 vote IN EACH category. 15 and over can vote this year so take your youngsters along to vote for us. Take along something to prove your address like a utility bill. PLEASE, Help us this Sunday. 11 am until 4 pm, Treorchy Boys and Girls Club.
One week to the Rhondda Tunnel Society Brass & Voices Concert at the Park & Dare Theatre, Treorchy. Don’t miss this incredible evening of music & song, Tuesday November 7th at 7: 15pm, featuring Lewis-Merthyr Band, Pendyrus Male Choir, BBC Radio Wales’ Beverley Humphreys, Côr Y Cwm & Treorchy Comprehensive School Choir with Soloist Sydney Richards. Tickets are available from the Park & Dare Theatre Box Office on 03000 040 444 or visit https://rct-theatres.co.uk/event/brass-voices #likeandshare See you there!