Standedge Tunnel

Useful Information

Location: Between Diggle in Saddleworth and Marsden in the Colne Valley. At the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Open: Through trips: book at least 3 days in advance by phoning British Waterways.
Boat trips: 14-APR to OCT Tue-Thu, Sat, Sun, Hol.
Water-Taxi Marsden Railway Station-Standedge Tunnel: Sat, Sun, Hol.
Standedge Visitor Centre: closed until early summer 2006.
Fee: Through trips: boat owners free, short-term license holders GBP 35, four crew members free, additional crew members GBP 6.
Boat trip: Adults GBP 4, Senior Citizens GBP 3.50, Children (5-15) GBP 3, Children (0-5) free. Groups (15+): Adults GBP 3.60, Children (5-15) GBP 2.70, Concessions GBP 3.15. Season tickets: Adults GBP 9, Children GBP 6, Concessions GBP 7.50.
Standedge Visitor Centre: free.
Classification: SubterraneaTunnel Canal tunnel.
Light: none.
Dimension: L=4,989 m, A=197 m asl.
Guided tours: Boat trip: D=30 min.
Address: Standedge Tunnel, Waters Road, Marsden, West Yorkshire HD7 6NQ, Tel: +44-1484-844298. E-mail: contact
Through trips for boat owners: Yorkshire Waterways Customer Services, Tel: +44-1977-554351.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1795 tunnel construction started by the engineer Benjamin Outram.
1801 work taken over by Thomas Telford.
1811 canal and tunnel opened.
1948 last boat through the tunnel for 50 years taken by Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman, founders of the Inland Waterways Association.
1974 campaign to restore the Canal, Huddersfield Canal Society founded.
01-MAY-2001 Huddersfield Narrow Canal and Standedge Tunnel re-opened for navigation.


The Standedge Tunnel is a historic tunnel for the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, crossing the high Pennine spine of Northern England. It is said to be the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain. Longest is easy to understand, highest means height above sea level, and deepest means it is covered by 194 m of rock at the highest point of the Pennine above.

The Huddersfield Narrow Canal connects Ashton-under-Lyne and Huddersfield. It was built at first by the engineer Benjamin Outram. He resigned in 1801 and was succeeded by Thomas Telford. It took ten more year until the canal and the tunnel were opened. All in all it took 16 years to build the tunnel.

The tunnel was an important infrastructure, used for the transport of goods across Yorkshire for many decades. But with the 20th century the decline of the small boats came, and the canal was finally abandoned. It was not big enough for the modern ships and thus avoided. Tom Rolt and Robert Aickman, founders of the Inland Waterways Association, took a boat along the Canal in 1948. It is said, that this was the last boat through the tunnel for 50 years. The Huddersfield Canal Society was founded 26 years later, but it took another 27 years until the canal was reopened.

There are regular passages through the tunnel, and there is usually space for individual visitors. It is also possible for boat owners to cross the tunnel with their own boat. It has to fit the tunnel, and it must be towed through by electric tug, while the boat crews ride through the tunnel in the accompanying passenger module.

From Tunnel End Cottages at the tunnel mouth boat rides go about 500 m into the tunnel. The boats are specially designed with glass roof and powerful external lights. At each end is a viewing platforms. Standedge Visitor Centre has an exhibition on the history of the canal and the building of the Tunnel. It is closed at the moment (winter 2005) for refurbishment and will reopen in early summer 2006.