Travel, Days Out & Events

Ironbridge Gorge Museums : Tar Tunnel

During the half term holidays, we decided to make the most of our invitation to visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s, Shropshire. Bank Holiday Monday saw us visiting the Tar Tunnel as well as spending the afternoon at Blists Hill Victorian Town.

Tar Tunnel 1In 1786 The Tar Tunnel was work in progress for William Reynolds, local businessman where he decided to construct a tunnel from the side of the River Severn to the coal shafts at nearby Blists Hill. This was to provide easy transport of coal to the river for selling and distributing.

About 300 meters into the constuction of the tunnel William’s workmen sprung a leak at the time they believed it to be tar when in fact it was later discovered to be natural bitumen.

This then meant that William was to rethink his plans of using the tunnel to move coal and instead set about selling the tar. Instead this resulted in an incline plane being created and also the construction of a man made canal which is at the heart of Blists Hill Victorian Town.

Tar Tunnel 2

The tunnel is believed to be about 1006 meters long, although due to tar puddles and collapsed brick linking the attraction is only open to the public for about 100 meters and is closed off through iron gates. Further sections of the tunnel have previously been searched of which the tunnel opens out into a sections where wagons were able to pass to transport coal from the mines.

Throughout the mine there are side tracks, leading to Blists Hill Lower Pit mine and another for the Upper Pit. Also there is highly believed to be a further extension to the mine leading into the heart of the local town, Madeley. This extension has never been discovered due as progress has never been made past 673 meters.

The Tar Tunnel is only open during high seasonal times and is only a small attraction. Your visit is expected to last about 20 minutes.

If you are thinking about visiting the Tar Museum or any other of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, tickets for each attraction can be purchased at the door or you can purchase an annual pass. The annual passes give you unlimited daytime access to all of the Ironbridge Gorge museum sites over a 12 month period.

**This is not a sponsored post. We were provided with an Invitation to visit all Ironbridge Museums to review. All words and opinions are my own.




To this day tar is still seeping out of the walls of this tunnel form


  1. redrosemummy

    6th June 2014 at 1:49 pm

    The Tar Tunnel was fab, I have pics of Bud in his pushchair down there!

  2. Donna

    3rd June 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Those tunnels look so scary! I don’t think I’d be able to go down there! x

    1. Rebecca Bodkin

      3rd June 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Haha, I wasn’t too sure to begin with Donna but after a minute or two I felt fine.

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