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Queensway Tunnel

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Queensway Tunnel
Img 1924.jpg
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From:  Liverpool City Centre
To:  Birkenhead
Cheshire • Lancashire
Highway Authority
Wirral • Liverpool
Opening Date
Additional Information
Tunnel Type:  Bored
Length:  3237m (10620 ft)
On road(s)
This article is about the tunnel underneath the River Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead.
For the tunnels on the former Birmingham Inner Ring Road, see Queensway Tunnel (Birmingham)

Queensway (also known as the Old Tunnel or Birkenhead Tunnel) is the name of the older of the two Mersey road tunnels between Liverpool and Birkenhead. It was opened on 18th July 1934 by King George V, and remains to this day an excellent example of 1930s art-deco design as well as being the longest road tunnel in the United Kingdom at 3237m (in the whole of the British Isles the Dublin Port Tunnel is longer at 4.5km). The tunnel also comprises ventilation towers, one next to the Three Graces which also houses the control room.

It has four (nine foot) lanes in a single 13m bore with a 30 mph speed limit. Two lanes flow in each direction. When the tunnel was originally constructed, in addition to the main tunnel, two branch tunnels were constructed, one on the Liverpool side and one on the Birkenhead side (known as the Rendel Street Branch). These tunnels were two lane two-way tunnels, with traffic signals to control the interchange with the main line. The branch on the Birkenhead side towards Wallasey was closed in the late 1960s, around the time the Kingsway Tunnel opened. The Liverpool branch tunnel curves up and round to the Shore Road by the Pier Head and Three Graces. This branch is now one way carrying traffic out of the tunnel only.

A toll of £1.70 applies for cars, payable in both directions. The toll booths at the western end were completely reconstructed in 1969, a mere three years before the road was relieved by the Kingsway Tunnel to the north. Heavy Goods Traffic is prohibited from the tunnel, it must use the Kingsway tunnel instead. Busses must use the offside lane in each direction, owing to the height of the tunnel being higher in the middle.

At its eastern end, improvements were made to the approach roads from the north, including the construction of the twin Churchill Way Flyovers. Liverpool City Council has since announced plans to remove at least one of the structures in favour of public transport improvements to the area.

Within the bore, the road deck sits half way up the vertical height. This allows for a lower deck level underneath. The lower deck was originally specified for the provision of a tram link; however, this was never constructed. Following the 1990s Mont Blanc Tunnel fire, the area underneath the main road deck has been converted to contain self contained emergency refuge areas, allowing a place for passengers to wait in an emergency. These refuge areas are interconnected via passageways and have exits at each end to Liverpool and Birkenhead.

The lower deck is also used for ventilation - large turbines are used to pump fresh air into the spaces at the sides of the lower deck tramway, and holes in the deck allow the air to be pushed up and out into the tunnel. This pushes the exhaust gas out of the chimneys. Additional fans are then mounted in the exhaust chambers which can be turned on if necessary to increase the airflow further. The lower deck also houses utilities such as telephone lines are contained along the course.

In the 1960s additional ventilation was added to improve air quality in the centre of the tunnel.

It is possible to go on a behind the scenes tour of the Queensway Tunnel, which inclues access to the old control room, an exhaust chamber, an air intake chamber, the road deck, and an area underneath the road deck now containing the emergency evactuation waiting areas. Tours run Tue-Thu at 17:00 and Sat at 10:00.



Merseyside Maritime Museum

Queensway Tunnel
Related Pictures
View gallery (12)
Exiting the Mersey Tunnel - Coppermine - 3655.jpgQueensway Tunnel junction postcard.jpgQueensway Tunnel postcard 2.jpg20181219-0948 - Queensway Tunnel Birkenhead Approach 53.390522N 3.016113W.jpgIMG 5744.JPG Queensway Tunnel Liverpool.jpg
Other nearby roads
A41 • A57 • A59 • A506 • A526 • A561 • A562 • A563 (Liverpool - Salford) • A564 (Liverpool) • A565 • A566 • A567 • A580 • A5017 (Liverpool) • A5036 • A5037 • A5038 • A5039 • A5040 • A5041 • A5042 • A5043 • A5044 • A5045 • A5046 • A5047 • A5048 • A5049 • A5050 • A5051 • A5052 • A5053 • A5054 • A5055 • A5056 • A5058 • A5080 (Liverpool - Warrington) • A5089 • A5090 • A5097 • A5107 • A5275 • B5171 • B5172 (Liverpool) • B5173 • B5174 • B5175 • B5176 • B5177 • B5178 • B5179 • B5180 • B5181 (Liverpool) • B5182 • B5183 • B5184 • B5185 • B5186 • B5187 • B5188 • B5189 • B5192 (South Lancs) • B5317 (Liverpool) • B5339 • B5340 • B5342 • E20 • E33 (Northampton - Liverpool) • E109 (Old System) • Liverpool Inner Motorway • M52 • M53 • M57 • M58 • M59 • M62 • Northern and Western Motorway • T20 (Britain) • T21 (Britain) • T59 (Britain)
A41 • A51 • A59 • A540 • A551 • A552 • A553 • A554 • A5027 • A5029 • A5030 • A5031 • A5088 • A5137 • A5139 • A5227 • B5136 • B5137 • B5138 • B5139 • B5140 • B5141 • B5146 • B5147 • B5148 • B5149 • B5150 • B5151 • B5172 • B5361 (Birkenhead) • M53 • T14 (Britain)
Crossings of the River Mersey and tributaries
River EtherowWoodhead Reservoir Bridge • Woolley Bridge • Compstall Bridge
River GoytLower Macclesfield Rd Bridge • Whaley Bridge • Chapel Bypass Bridge • Bridgemont • Albion Road Bridge • Union Road Bridge • Woodend Bridge • Marple Bridge • Otterspool Bridge • New Bridge (Stockport) • Carrington Bridge (Stockport) • St Marys Way Bridge • Park Bridge
River TameDowry Reservoir Outlet • Denshaw Bridge • Delph Bridge • New Delph Bridge • Tame Water Bridge • Frenches Bridge • Wellihole Bridge • Roaches Bridge • Stalybridge  • Caroline St Bridge • Clarence Bridge • Dukinfield Bridge (Whitelands)  • Alma Bridge • Shepley Bridge • M67 Denton Bridge • Broomstair Bridge • Beight Bridge • M60 - Reddish Vale Bridge • Tiviot Way Bridge • M60 - Stockport Bridge
River MerseyKnightsbridge • Mersey Square Bridge • King Street West Bridge • Hollywood Way Bridge • Brinksway Bridge • M60- Cheadle Heath Bridge • Cheadle Bridge • Kingsway Bridge (Cheadle) • M60 - Northenden Bridge (2) • M60 - Northenden Bridge • Northenden Bridge • River Mersey Bridge • M60 Bridge SE of Junction 7 • Crossford Bridge (Sale) • A6144 Bridge • Flixton Bridge • Warburton Bridge • Thelwall Viaduct • Kingsway Bridge • Warrington Bridge • Mersey Gateway Bridge • Silver Jubilee Bridge • Queensway Tunnel • Kingsway Tunnel

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