A stark monument, in the shape of a Gothic tunnel entrance alongside the church at Otley in West Yorkshire, tells us that :
‘ The Leeds and Thirsk Railway was promoted to provide a new route from Leeds to the north and on to Scotland. Having been given Royal assent on 21st July 1845, practical construction work commenced in 1846, the contractor James Bray, facing considerable technical problems in crossing the hills and valleys along the route. The greatest challenge was to cut the Bramhope tunnel 25ft high through 2 miles 243 yards of rock at depths up to 290ft. Some 2,300 men and 400 horses were involved in the work, all being subject to sudden falls of rock, subsidence, flooding and accidental death. One victim, James Myers of Yeadon, had the following lines inscribed on his gravestone :
‘ What dangers do surround
Poor miners everywhere
And they labour underground
Thay should be men of prayer.’
This monument to those who died in the construction of the tunnel is based upon its northern portal, originally constructed in Caen Stone, it was first restored in 1913 by the North Eastern Railway Co. and again under the auspices of Otley Town Council and British Rail in 1988.’
The miners buried beneath the monument, 23 in all, are named.
This railway is still in use today and the above mentioned northern portal can still be seen and also the very fine viaduct which carries to the railway away from the tunnel across Wharfedale.
Another curious tale is told connected to this church. The notable Methodist preacher John Wesley visited Otley on about 20 occasions, the first being on 17th July 1759.
It is said that on one of his visits to Otley, his horse died and was buried in the churchyard. In his journal for Sunday 5th May 1782, Wesley wrote:
‘One of my horses having been so thoroughly lamed at Otley that he died in three or four days. They buried him in the Churchyard there being no other place. So Robert rests. Purchased another, but, it was his way to stand still when he pleased, and set out as soon as possible.’
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Photo taken in Otley, West Yorkshire, UK
Misplaced? Suggest new location