History in Structure

Glenfield Tunnel Ventilation Shaft, rear of 21 Fairefield Crescent

A Grade II Listed Building in Glenfields, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6526 / 52°39'9"N

Longitude: -1.1902 / 1°11'24"W

OS Eastings: 454878

OS Northings: 306408

OS Grid: SK548064

Mapcode National: GBR F2B.BZ

Mapcode Global: WHDJ9.PLF8

Plus Code: 9C4WMR35+3W

Entry Name: Glenfield Tunnel Ventilation Shaft, rear of 21 Fairefield Crescent

Listing Date: 21 September 2021

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1474205

ID on this website: 101474205

Location: Glenfield, Blaby, Leicestershire, LE3

County: Leicestershire

District: Blaby

Civil Parish: Glenfields

Built-Up Area: Leicester

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire


A railway tunnel ventilation shaft of 1832 by Robert Stephenson.


A railway tunnel ventilation shaft of 1832 by Robert Stephenson.

MATERIALS: brick with stone coping and a metal grille cover.

EXTERIOR: the shaft is circular in plan and rises without obvious tapering to a height of about 2.5m. It is constructed in a mix of red and blue bricks laid in English Bond. The uppermost brick course is topped with stone coping, and sitting on these stones is a flat metal grille covering the shaft.


The Leicester and Swannington Railway was constructed to transport coal to Leicester city from north-west Leicestershire. As a secondary function it carried fare paying passengers. George Stephenson (1781-1848) consulted on the establishment of the line and helped arrange finance, and his son Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) was the engineer. Opening in 1832, it was amongst the earliest steam locomotive railways in the world. At this date, the stretch of track carried by the Glenfield Tunnel north-west of Leicester city centre was only the second tunnel on a passenger carrying railway line, and the longest tunnel on a passenger railway in the world. The tunnel is just over a mile long at 1796 yards (1642 metres) and is serviced by 13 ventilation shafts. These shafts were required to provide access during construction, regulate temperature, improve air quality and reduce fire risk. This shaft is the third one from the west end of the tunnel and is in the back garden of a private dwelling.

Reasons for Listing

The Glenfield Tunnel ventilation shaft to the rear of 21 Fairefield Crescent Leicester is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural Interest:

* its function as a ventilation shaft gives the structure a distinctive shape and size;

* the tunnel was the largest passenger railway tunnel in the world on completion, giving the shaft claims to significant architectural interest through its innovation and technical accomplishment.

Historic Interest:

* it was designed by the famous railway engineer Robert Stephenson, giving it a good claim to special historic interest;

Group value:

* the shaft has strong group value with the other elements of the tunnel which are listed.

External Links

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