Sustrans, Two Tunnels

Opened in 1884 the Somerset & Dorset Railway line passed through beautiful open countryside as it meandered its way from Bath to Bournemouth. Falling income led to its closure in 1966 and for many years the line lay unloved and derelict.

On April 7th 2013 the project managers SUSTRANS opened a new linking section of the line south of Bath, to cyclists and walkers as part of the National Cycle Network route (NCN24). This section of the old line passed through the two Tunnels south of Bath, Devonshire Tunnel is 408m long and Combe Down Tunnel is 1672m long (Just over 1 mile). Combe Down holds the title as the longest cycle path tunnel in the UK.

From the outset this project was a team effort. A clear client vision and concept was always principal to a successful outcome and technology was to play a secondary role, in being the servant and enabler. The concept was to provide sufficient light to allow safe passage of walkers and cyclists through both tunnels whilst not interfering with the routines of protected Bat species that inhabit the tunnels.

The success of this project relied upon meticulous client management offering advice, comment and support throughout every stage. Over 4 years, working closely with SUSTRANS and the Two Tunnels Steering Group as well as essential input from the well-respected ecologist Roger Ransome, we provided the Lighting Design and technical solutions to achieve Sustrans’ vision and concept.

In our design, over 300 multiple Led luminaires were used to wash the dark cycle path – flat dark walls are now alive and bring an atmosphere reminiscent of their historic past. Artwork in the workman’s recesses are set in relief providing a wonderful overall balanced visual effect to what is in essence a fabulous if unusual stage set.

In the forefront of conservation and lighting of such an unusual historic interior, the end result is highly regarded by walkers and cyclists alike. Sustrans’ vision and concept has been achieved through the dedicated work and support of many people and our attention to detailed Lighting Design. Together with Sustrans’ support, the team have achieved a balanced harmony and vibrancy helping to secure the future of these two magnificent Tunnels.

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