Full steam ahead for conversion of Victorian Catesby rail tunnel

From the left, Ian Bramble (Roger Coy Partnership), Cllr Liz Griffin (Daventry District Council), Cllr Colin Poole (Daventry District Council). Back, from the left, Luke Abbott (Roger Coy Partnership), Cllr Chris Millar (Daventry District Council), Gary Underhill (Daventry District Council) outside the Victorian railway tunnel at Catesby. NNL-170712-141450001
From the left, Ian Bramble (Roger Coy Partnership), Cllr Liz Griffin (Daventry District Council), Cllr Colin Poole (Daventry District Council). Back, from the left, Luke Abbott (Roger Coy Partnership), Cllr Chris Millar (Daventry District Council), Gary Underhill (Daventry District Council) outside the Victorian railway tunnel at Catesby. NNL-170712-141450001

Work is underway on a world-class aerodynamic testing facility in a disused Victorian railway tunnel.

Brackley firm Aero Research Partners (ARP) has started to build the facility in the Catesby Tunnel , which is 2.7km long.

Work on building the roads to the Catesby Aero Research Facility on the A361 will begin shortly while clearing hedgerows has already started following consultation with Daventry District Council planning and arboricultural officers.

The tunnel will be remodelled into a smooth asphalt roadway, with lighting and end closures and other upgrades and a 4.5-acre science park with offices, workshops and a research facility will be be built, creating new jobs.

The tunnel will be available for hire and is expected to attract interest from across the world from cycling and motorsport teams to major vehicle manufacturers.

The project received £4.2 million from the government’s Local Growth Fund through the South East Midlands Local Enterprise

Partnership.

Dr Rob Lewis, managing director of Brackley-based TotalSim, and ARP, said: “The Local Growth Fund award has been a key step in moving this project forward. We now have both planning permission and a significant amount of the required budget secured.

“We have investors ready to become part of the project early in 2018 and we expect to open the facility to customers in late 2019. Testing vehicles in Catesby tunnel will give the UK a unique tool in automotive and race car development. We hope this will lead to a successful science park and other regional activities that will support the testing and innovation at Catesby.

“As the project matures we intend to explore academic collaborations as well as using the facility to engage with schools and work to inspire children into the world of science, technology, engineering and maths.”