Scarborough Tunnel Restoration Helps Open Up Attraction

A previously sealed foot tunnel in Scarborough has been reopened as part of a project to link up a popular public open space overlooking the sea.

South Cliff Gardens has been the subject of a £4.7 million project, mostly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to restore it to former glories. The clifftop site will get a new community building to provide new facilities for the public, but one of the more exciting elements will be the reopening of the tunnel.

Running under the Spa Cliff Lift, the short foot tunnel was closed for safety reasons in 1973. It is only five metres long, but because of the topography its closure meant that a mile-long detour was required to get from the north to the south sections of the gardens.

Work to fix the tunnel has included examining and where necessary replacing bits of brickwork and masonry that were crumbling and unstable.  The tunnel floor has been dug out and the brick arch exposed, new helical bars installed and new drainage and lighting installed.

The work has also involved adding new floor mesh and dowels and pouring in concrete to provide a new, even surface for pedestrians to use.

Speaking to the Scarborough News, site manager Alan Cooke, of contractors PBS, said that things had “pretty much gone to plan” apart from the discovery of some asbestos. “We did a survey, excavated a new footpath, took down the wall that blocked it up, added supports, cleaned the brickwork and put a new concrete slab down.”

Noting how useful the restored tunnel will be for disabled access, reducing journey times between the two halves of the gardens by “20 to 30 minutes”, he noted: “Previously, they’d have to go up to the top and back down again, leave the park and go back in.“

Other restoration work in the gardens has included new steps, restoration of gates, fences and the Belvedere Gate pillar, the digging out and drystone waling of the sunken garden, the digging out and bouldering of the Italian gardens and the restoration of various shelters and the toilet block.

When finished, the revived attraction will be a major draw for residents and visitors, with the tunnel being invaluable in helping them get around.

It is certainly not the only significant revitalisation of a popular tourist facility with a tunnel that has undergone a recent revival using lottery cash.

The Keswick Railway Path, which connects the town with the village of Threlkeld along a 5km stretch of the former line from Penrith, reopened on December 5th 2020, five years to the day after it was badly damaged by Storm Desmond, including the destruction of bridges along the route.

A new tunnel was built where there used to be a boardwalk and the path was resurfaced to provide a smooth, even surface that makes it ideal for those with wheelchairs, mobility scooters, pushchairs and prams to use, as well as cyclists and walkers.

The Keswick end of the route stops at the buildings of the town’s former station.