Going underground!

‘Lost’ Brunel reservoir found in Devon

UST when we thought, with the opening of a major new Isambard Kingdom Brunel museum in Bristol, we knew all of his major works off by heart – another has been discovered.

Added to Box Tunnel, the Royal Albert Bridge, Maidenhead Bridge, Bristol Temple Meads, Sonning Cutting and the SS Great Britain can be added another – a huge underground reservoir at Starcross in Devon.

Two 105ft long and 10ft wide caverns with a spectacular display of stalactites formed by dripping water from the roof, and linked by 120 arches, were discovered purely by chance in April as workmen carried out a flood defence scheme in the seaside village.

A contemporary painting of the short-lived South Devon Atmospheric Railway at Starcross.

The Environment Agency began work on the £4 million tidal defence scheme for Starcross and Cockwood in January. It aims to reduce the risk of tidal flooding to more than 650 residential and commercial properties. The work at Starcross includes the installation of new tidal flood gates at Generals Lane slipway and the tidal inlet at the north of Starcross.

The project also includes raising the crest level of the slipway at the Starcross Fishing and Cruising Club and it was deemed necessary to reprofile the club’s car park.

During this work, the Environment Agency’s contractors discovered that a manhole led to the large underground chamber beneath the existing car park, believed to be an underground reservoir associated with Brunel’s atmospheric railway.

Read more and view more images in Issue 242 of HR – on sale now!

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