Tar Tunnel 1787by Adrian Evans
ABOUT THE ART
The Tar Tunnel is located in the Ironbridge Gorge at Coalport, England.
Miners struck a gushing spring of natural bitumen, a black treacle-like substance, when digging a canal tunnel for the Coalport Canal in 1787. After digging some 3,000ft into the hill the canal project was abandoned in favour of bitumen extraction.
The tunnel was a great curiosity in the eighteenth century and bitumen still oozes gently from the brick walls today. Bitumen's chief commercial use at the time was to treat and weatherproof ropes and caulk wooden ships, but small amounts were processed and bottled as a remedy for rheumatism.