Lapal Tunnel was built in 1798 on the Dudley no 2 Canal in Worcestershire. At 3,795 yards long, it was the fourth longest tunnel in the UK. The architect was the perfectly named William Underhill.
The tunnel was built to vary small dimensions, with a diameter of around 9 feet. Subsequent subsidence reduced this to just 7 feet 9 inches wide and with headroom as low as 6 feet in places. Passage was by traditional ‘legging’ but in 1841 a steam engine was built to provide a head of water so boats were aided through the tunnel by an artificial current. This reduced the transit time from around three hours to just a couple.
The tunnel was abandoned in 1917 after further mining subsidence caused a collapse within. The Lapal Canal Trust is striving to restore the Dudley no 2 Canal but it is likely that restoration will entail by-passing the tunnel with new locks rather than restoring it for transit.