The North York Moors village of Grosmont lies on the Whitby to Pickering railway line, which was built by George Stephenson and opened over its full length on 26 May 1836. There are two adjacent railway tunnels to the south of the village, and the current line passes through the large one.
The earlier small tunnel is now used as a pedestrian route through to the North York Moors Railway engine sheds. Built between 1833 and 1835, it is a Grade 2 listed building, 130 yards long, 14 feet high and 10 feet wide. It was one of the world’s first passenger railway tunnels and carriages containing up to 10 people would have been pulled by horses.
The castellated design of the tunnel was left to George Stephenson’s assistant, 22-year-old Frederick Swanwick. He was censured by directors for making it too fancy and thus wasting money.
With the introduction of steam locomotives in 1847, tunnels had to be taller and wider, and bridges had to be stronger to accommodate the bigger and heavier vehicles. Hence the construction and subsequent use of the second tunnel alongside the first.