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Lanos Legacy

(By Lynn Cooch Portland Ranger)

Tunnel under Wide Street and Lano's Arch, Tout Quarry Links in the Portland Quarry Trail

The Lano's tunnel project is now nearly finished.

Patience with traffic lights and work there has been really appreciated, as well as support and help from landowners and companies; Albion Stone, Cladding Consultants Ltd, Crown Estate and Portland Stone Ltd

Opening up a tunnel sounds a relatively simple thing to do, but due to its historic value and location there have been lots of considerations to take into account with complications and delays.

The condition of the tunnel portal was largely unknown before it was fully exposed and therefore contractors have had to adapt or change work to suit what was found.

In addition, there's been a need to carefully balance the requirements of English Heritage, who have funded the project through their Aggregates Levy Sustainable Fund, and health and safety requirements of Highways.

This has led to some redesign and a phased approach but one that has produced a better outcome for the Portland's heritage and landscape

English Heritage has been monitoring the works, working closely with the engineers and contractors on site, from initial exposure of the keystone through to construction of the safety barrier and the choice of mortar mixes.

A substantial steel-reinforced concrete beam was built as part of the safety barrier (required by Highways).

Extreme winter weather, the location of BT ducts, further work needed because of voids discovered above the tunnel arch and the need for Cintec anchors to reinforce the arch barrier, all contributed to delays on completing work.

The banks have now been sown with Portland seed and enthusiastic volunteers and families recently helped remove Cotoneaster and reveal the original stone sleeper blocks along the footpath leading up to the tunnel.

Opening up the tunnel is part of on-going work to create a Portland Quarry Trail, allowing people improved access and opportunities to enjoy the quarries' geology, wildlife, history and sculptures as well as preserve some of the heritage features in danger of being lost, disappearing under scrub or falling down.

The work started a few years ago with the opening-up of Yeates Incline under the three bridges above Tillycombe.

Since the initial clearance, Boots (Volunteer Ranger) has been meeting regularly to continue the work of revealing more of the features; thanks to his efforts the top of that Incline now appears on the front of Julia Bradbury's Book!

In addition, the route of the Merchants' Railway behind Tillycombe had been opened up as well as the tramway route into King Barrow Quarries.

For all this work grants have been secured from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Scheme; getting money back to the island for local projects to value Portland's quarrying history.

Restoration and stabilisation work is also being undertaken on Lano's Gully and on Lano's beautiful dry stone arch.

A series of guided walks and talks with local experts is being planned as part of English Heritage's National Open Heritage days (more information to come later).

In the meantime if you would like more information please contact;
Lyn Cooch, Wild About Weymouth and Portland Partnership
l.d.cooch@dorsetcc.gov.uk or on 07973 907760.