The Lea Tunnel and Harvest Home
1851 – Brunel Advises on the Lea Tunnel
Mr. Brunel was asked how long it would take to build the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway, and how works should proceed; he recommended that the two tunnels, one at Lea between Grange and Ross, and the other at Ballingham between Ross and Hereford should be started first as they would take the most time to complete.
The land through which the Lea tunnel passed belonged to the Great Western Railway Company, who agreed to immediately let the work begin.
1853 – Lea Tunnel holds up Railway
The Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway construction was greatly held up by dreadful weather, but by far the biggest problem was the Lea tunnel.
In the immediate vicinity of Ross the line was nearly finished, but the Lea tunnel was completely flooded, and in spite of great efforts to get rid of the water it was gloomily predicted that the tunnel would not be finished for at least a year.
1854 – Lea Tunnel nearly finished
It was expected that the works on the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway would be completed by early November in 1854.
At Lea tunnel all that remained to be done were 4 chains of arching which were due to be completed, along with the drain and ballasting, in two months.
The tunnel was nearly half a mile long.
1863 – First Attempt at a Harvest Home at Lea
A service was performed in St. John’s church at midday, with the church being well decorated with flowers and wheat and gratifyingly full of parishioners.
Afterwards, the congregation went to a nearby field lent by Mr. S. Day, in which had been erected a large tent. Local gentry and farmers of the parish had clubbed together and provided a sumptious feast with roast and boiled beef; mutton; plum pudding and ale and cider.
Later the health of the Queen was toasted, and then many rustic sports including football, cricket, races (including one for women with buckets of water on their heads!), a pig hunt and other such fun. All the while, women danced to the fiddle and harp and elderly men figured in reels.
Oddly, the race deemed the most exciting was between two old men with gammy legs run over 60 yards. Apparently this was extremely funny!