Steeplejack Fred Dibnah Memorial to Owain Glyndwr

From: The Severn Tunnel - One Hundred Not Out (Centenary article)

...By mid-October 1879 the headings were just 138 yards apart when a torrent of water burst into the western half, and one of the workmen was swept to his death: the tunnellers had hit the 'Great Spring'. No-one had been aware of its existence, and even today, its source remains a mystery....
If lightning can strike twice, so too can flood. On October 17 1883, exactly four years after the Great Spring incident, the highest tide in the Bristol Channel flooded the surrounding countryside and water poured into the tunnel via the cuttings. Trapped workers were rescued using a boat lowered down one of the shafts....
At 8.00am on April 18 1885, the last of the 76.4 million bricks was cemented into place, and work proceeded to fill the floor of the tunnel with heavy stone pitching on which a foot of ballast was spread to support the rails....
By January 9 of the following year, all was ready for an experimental mineral train to make the first passage through the tunnel. Coal, brought to the colliery surface at Aberdare that morning, was unloaded at Southampton Docks the same evening. The GWR's faith - and the £1,806,248 invested - had been rewarded!

The gatehouse at Laugharne Castle A traction engine at a Steam Fair

Historical work by South Wales photojournalist
Deryck Lewis

Text and photographs copyright © Deryck Lewis