Beck Valley Culvert: The two-mile-long Victorian tunnel running under Nottingham

The Beck Valley Water Storm Culvert was built in 1884The Beck Valley Water Storm Culvert was built in 1884
The Beck Valley Water Storm Culvert was built in 1884
It was opened in 1884 and has been serving the city ever since

It’s thought that Nottingham as a settlement was established in 600 AD, so it’s unsurprising that the city in its current form contains quite a few nods to the past. 

Wherever you look, whether the eerie catacombs beneath Rock Cemetery or the lavish rooms within Wollaton Hall, reminders of Nottingham’s past remain very much in the present. 

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The beauty of local history is that you could quite literally dedicate your whole life to finding out about a certain area and still only scratch the surface. 

Here at Nottingham World we love nothing more than shining a light on the city’s fascinating past, particularly the parts which aren’t particularly well-documented. 

Having recently taken readers inside the 170-year-old Belle Vue Reservoir, we decided to do some more digging to see if there is any other Victorian architecture beneath the city. 

As it turns out, there certainly is. 

Unless you’re a bona fide local history buff or urban explorer, you’ll have probably never heard of the Beck Valley Water Storm Culvert. 

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Built in 1884, the two-mile-long culvert begins under St Ann’s Well Road to the River Trent. 

The exit of the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert in Trent LaneThe exit of the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert in Trent Lane
The exit of the Beck Valley Storm Water Culvert in Trent Lane

The culvert was originally fed by the St Ann’s Well - a natural spring close to the appropriately-named St Ann’s Well Road. 

During the time of its construction, the east side of Nottingham was rapidly expanding and the area required a means for its surface water to travel south towards the Trent. 

These days the Beck Valley culvert is used as an emergency run-off for surface water during times of heavy rainfall, discharging its contents at the end of Trent Lane. 

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A large stone detailing the culvert’s opening date and builder can be seen above the Trent Lane exit. 

A stone laid in 1884 to commemorate the culvert's openingA stone laid in 1884 to commemorate the culvert's opening
A stone laid in 1884 to commemorate the culvert's opening

An access shaft leading down to the tunnel can be found in Victoria Park - roughly half a mile from its starting point in St Ann’s Well Road. 

The culvert is occasionally entered by intrigued urban explorers keen on experiencing the Victorian architecture for themselves (although we certainly wouldn’t recommend trying it!). 

Nearly 140 years after it was first built, the Beck Valley culvert remains a key part of Nottingham infrastructure - testament to the Victorian workers who laid its millions of bricks all those years ago.