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The history of Blackcave Tunnel, Larne, Co. Antrim

Learn more about the construction of the Antrim Coast Road by William Bald, and the famous Black Arch near Larne.

The Blackcave Tunnel sits on the Antrim Coast Road just outside Larne. The cost road has been described as one of the word’s most scenic drives.

The road and tunnel were built in the 19th century by William Bald (1789-1857), a Scotish surveyor, cartographer and engineer. He sought to link the communities of the Glens of Antrim with the larger towns. The 40km route from Larne to Cushendall was built between 1832 and 1842. Previous road plans intended to place the route further inland, but Bald blasted the cliffs with dynamite and used the settle rubble as the base for the road. 300,000 cubic yards of rock were hurled onto the shore, almost entirely by blasting.

The road remained almost entirely unchanged from 1842 until the 1960s, when in 1967 there was a major fall of rock onto the road south of Glenarm. Around this area the cliffs are c. 100m high, so Antrim County Council decided to build a new road next to the older one, but further out to sea. The council reinforced the road with rock armour and work was completed in 1970.

The road cost £37,140, which was £12,000 over budget. Today the same road would cost £370million ($524m USD).

Learn more:
Burntisland Heritage Trust

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