Most Southern tunnels have relatively plain portals, but Clayton Tunnel, on the Brighton line, is a joyous exception. Perhaps because it was easily seen from the old Brighton Road, it was built to impress. Constructed of yellow brick, with Caen stone detailing, it resembles the entrance to a fortress, with battlemented, hexagonal towers either side of the portal. Flanking walls are terminated by smaller, square turrets. The structure even has arrow slits, as though archers were waiting to repel Brighton-bound excursionists. The tunnel mouth itself is made more impressive by having a large outer arch set forward of a smaller one. Both arches have stone voussoirs. Quite incongruously, a domestic cottage crouches between the towers over the tunnel mouth. This may have been built to accommodate the attendant who supervised the gas lighting in the tunnel. In the early days the London & Brighton Railway whitewashed the interiors of its tunnels and lit them with gas jets. The tunnel portal was renovated by Railtrack in 1995. Movement in the main towers required careful demolition of the upper parts, followed by rebuilding using the original material. The brickwork was lightly cleaned and surrounding vegetation removed, so the tunnel is again clearly visible from the road bridge to the north. In complete contrast, the southern portal, which is not easily seen, is quite plain.
|Clayton Tunnel was built with eleven shafts. Most are well hidden away, but this one, the second
from the south end, is by the A273 at Pyecombe, photographed on 29th August 2011.
photograph by Gregory Beecroft
|Clayton Tunnel's south portal is of red brick and quite plain, but has a prominent string
course and keystone. The arch rings are in a contrasting blue brick.
photograph by Gregory Beecroft on 29th August 2011
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This page was last updated 3 September 2011