Story: Engineering

Lyttelton tunnel, 1860s

Lyttelton tunnel, 1860s

Building the Lyttelton tunnel proved challenging and took longer than expected. The first firm contracted to do the work withdrew. The hardness of the volcanic rock and the need to find ways to ventilate and drain the tunnel all resulted in delays. Canterbury Provincial Engineer Edward Dobson oversaw the work – his skill was demonstrated when the Lyttelton and Heathcote ends of the tunnel met perfectly in May 1867. Two-and-a-half weeks later, the tunnel was opened to the people of Lyttelton and Christchurch for a day, and hundreds walked its 2.6-kilometre length.

Photograph courtesy of Graham Stewart, Grantham House Publishing

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: MNZ-1683

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Matthew Wright, 'Engineering - 19th-century engineering', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/21587/lyttelton-tunnel-1860s (accessed 7 April 2020)

Story by Matthew Wright, published 11 Mar 2010