Winter Meeting: 18th February
David Porter who lives in the cottage immediately above the Clayton railway tunnel gave an amusing and interesting talk on its history, previous owners (and spooky things) to a full Faygate hall. David, who leases the cottage from network rail who own the grade 2 listed building, has researched its history and past owners. Every day hundred of trains hurl underneath this gothic folly built in 1841 with the small cottage on top added in 1849 almost as an afterthought. The origin of the turreted and castellated tunnel entrance is a mystery, was it built to satisfy the local landowner who wanted something more elegant on his land or was it to reassure nervous passengers who were about to enter its depths? We will perhaps never know for sure but it has ever since stood guard over the entrance to the one and a quarter mile tunnel. The cottage is small but was a home to a number of families, some raising six or seven children there. It has always been a happy place despite one of the rooms having an spooky occupying ‘presence’
The land around is full of wildlife and anything planted is quickly eaten by deer and rabbits so must be fenced off just as previous owners did years ago. The land slopes to the north and though glorious in summer, can be cold and damp in winter as the sun barely reaches over the downs. David has filmed many of the steam trains that take enthusiasts along the line and engulf the cottage in steam. Surprisingly there is very little noise unless the windows are open and reassuringly no vibration as the trains pass underneath. David has also filmed inside the brick lined tunnel during track maintenance showing interesting features like side adits that allow men to step aside as trains go through
A fascinating evening at Faygate with thanks to David Porter and Ian for arranging this. Also our thanks to the talented cake bakers who supply their cakes for club members to enjoy.