In 1914, there was a serious landslip on the railway embankment between the Ocean and the viaduct at Beard’s Mill. It was thought that a blockage of the culvert carrying the River Frome under the embankment was responsible for the slippage.
An article in Gloucestershire Chronicle dated 2nd May 1914, reported that the landslip brought down “many tons of earth and (diverted) the watercourse” and that “a large body of men will be working for some time to remedy the damage.” As a result of the landslip, the Midland Railway Company could only use the line on the west side of the embankment until repairs had been carried out.
We are still not sure about the purpose of these tunnels. They may be the remains of a brick-built drain put in when the railway embankment was constructed in 1842, to take away the water from the main road into the River Frome.
But they might have a connection to sewage pipes………..
Some time ago, Stonehouse History Group asked for information about the “tunnels” to the left of the canal towpath – just beyond the embankment on the Bond’s Mill side. A local man, Mr Davies, recalled that his father told him they were built to carry sewage pipes on their way to the sewage works (to the south of Beard’s Mill). The pipes were to have passed under the embankment. Mr Davies said his father told him that the tunnels had been built around the time of the First World War. We thought that the 1914 landslip stopped the sewage company from digging under the embankment near the river culvert, in case it caused another landslip. As far as we know, the tunnels were never used, although lots of people remember playing in them when they were children.
Instead, the sewerage pipes were put above ground, down the other side of the railway and under the embankment beyond the viaduct. These large black pipes were visible until a few years ago, when they were buried under the adjacent field.