The 'SUFF'

By: Dennis

Added: 6 Mar 2021

Buildings: Chimney Stack, Geology Office/Heritage Centre

I grew up in Hazelhurst Road Chell and my grandparents lived in St Michaels Road just below the Pittshill Working Men's Club. My grandad worked as a coal face miner at Whitfield and died from Silicosis and Pneumoconiosis typical minors diseases. As a boy one Sunday afternoon by chance I bumped into a friend from Barber Road. We were standing in Barber Road opposite Clement Road close to the entrance of the railway line leading through a tunnel beneath our feet. He said, "Shall we walk through the tunnel?" I had walked along the line towards Little Chell but never walked in the opposite direction through the tunnel. I agreed and as we entered the tunnel I was surprised how easy it was to see once away from natural day light. The view ahead was black but the more we moved forward the view became clearer. There were arched recesses for workers to stand in away from passing trains. Suddenly I saw a small amount of light coming from the right. I saw on the right a short off shoot in the tunnel equally as tall as the tunnel leading to a vertical shaft above us which I realized was a ventilation shaft up to the surface. To my recollection the shaft appeared to be about fifty feet high and I immediately realized where I was as I was familiar with a large round brick tower on the south east corner of High Lane and Clement Road. The brick structure stood about ten feet above the ground and was about fifteen feet in diameter. This has now been demolished and sealed at the top now forming part of the garden of the bungalow at that location. We continued on our way and saw that the tunnel began to turn slightly to the right beneath Clement Road but more to the right. passing beneath Chell Green Avenue eventually emerging with council houses to our left. For many years there was a gap in the houses in Chell Green Avenue perhaps because of building restrictions above the tunnel. As time went by an office building was built on that spot. It looked decidedly like a house and after more years it changed use from commercial to domestic. I can also report on a similar much deeper shaft, still there to this day but caped off with a concrete slab right next to new houses in Turnhurst Road just beyond The Brindley Lock. A scary story for another day.