Steel pipesare being used to safeguard a 150-year-old underground canal – and Dudley towncentre, which stands 80m above it.

The BBCreports the major repair work being carried out in Netherton tunnel, a 1.7-miletunnel built in 1858 to handle the high levels of canal traffic that needed topass beneath Dudley.

Althoughcanals are not as important for the transport of goods as they were 150 yearsago, the tunnel still needs to be maintained and, in 2011, bulging brickworkwas found.

Now a £1.5million repair scheme is underway, using steel pipes filled with concrete tostrengthen the walls of the tunnel.

Engineeringmanager John Ward tells the BBC: “We’ve had to anchor bolts 5-6m into therock to hold the walls in place, and concrete is being sprayed on as part ofthe repairs.”

But he addsthat, despite more work being likely in the years to come, the condition of thebrickwork overall is “very good” considering its age.

Work beganin November and is expected to be completed before Easter, protecting both thetunnel, and the residents of Dudley above it.