Middlehill Tunnel Notes
Text and photos courtesy Robert Coles
I have always liked Middlehill Tunnel better than Box Tunnel. I expect you know that Middlehill was chosen as the location for a posed publicity photo of 6000 King George V with the loco stopped at the west end prior to the American visit, pictured right. Note that there is no bell on the front of the locomotive, that would be fitted in America.
6000 King George V is owned by the National Railway Museum and is on display at Steam, Museum of the GWR, Swindon.
I never managed to photograph either portal of Middle Hill Tunnel, much prettier than the grand Box Tunnel. The GWR publicity department obviously thought so as well or it may have been that Middlehill allows a lower angle shot. In the 1970s, the Western end of Box Tunnel was used for publicity filming with a train coming out of the tunnel at speed, then reversing back in and doing it again for various takes. It was a convoluted process.
The Great Western was planned by Bristol merchants wanting to send goods to London, so perhaps that is why the eastern end of Box Tunnel is not grand. The gentleman passengers were going home then! With the military involvement the eastern entrance was changed a couple of times making it less imposing.
World's Fastest Train?
Billed as the World's Fastest Train, the fastest travel time between Swindon and Paddington in June 1932 was just over 56 minutes, about the same time as the new, contemporary trains.
Have you noticed that the Corsham pub sign for The Great Western, Pound Pill, is an exact copy of the cover of the book Cheltenham Flyer published in 1934 by the Great Western Railway Company? An earlier sign was a copy of the GWR poster Speed to the West.