THE SEWER AT BRAYSTONES
The Whitehaven News of 7 September 1961 carried a remarkably detailed report about the digging of a hole. The hole in question was a tunnel to allow new sewer pipes to pass beneath the railway line near Waborow Nook, south of Braystones.
The pipes were being installed for Ennerdale Rural District Council by Border Engineering Contractors. The site was so far off the beaten track that they decided to create their own roadway, using tons of hardcore to make it strong enough for heavy cranes and lorries, all the way along the beach from Braystones station- which proved to be very popular with holidaymakers at the various beach bungalows and caravan sites along the route. However, long-term maintenance of the new road was not part of the contract, and a high tide soon showed how much maintenance would be needed, as it dumped tons of stones across the route.
The tunnel was dug, in effect, by just two men, Ronald (or Robert!) Hill and William Jones, both from Manchester. They had started about the end of July, and in five weeks dug out some 250 tonnes of earth, using only picks and shovels. They too had to take high tides into account when planning their working days- and again, on one occasion, the seaward end of their tunnel was blocked by stones and debris brought in by the sea. As they dug, they shored up the tunnel with timber- most of the load-bearing beams being 23 x 10cm cross section (totalling about 100 linear metres of timber), with a further 20 metres length of 8cm square timber, and a cladding of 15 x 5cm section planks (700 linear metres). Because the tunnel was being dug under the railway, work was supervised by British Railways expert James Brigham of Workington, who had some 26 years' experience with the maintenance of the railway tunnel under Whitehaven. He was happy to report that there had been no interruptions to the trains service, and not a hint of subsidence.
Rails were laid within the tunnel, so that truckloads of soil and stones could easily be wheeled out. Once in the open air, they were taken away using a jib crane, driven by George Kelly of Cleator Moor, who dumped their contents on the beach. Work was expected to be finished by the day the newspaper was published, following which the sewage pipes would be put in place, then concrete would be poured in around them to seal the tunnel. The report includes a picture of the four workers standing in front of the nearly-completed tunnel. Sadly, it makes no mention of the adjacent beach bungalow 'Belvedere', but I'm guessing that it became a lot less popular for holidays after this time...