Northamptonshire testing tunnel marks anniversary with a special event

From radios to racing cars, the disused railway tunnel provides an environment to validate vehicle performance in real-world conditions

A Northamptonshire testing tunnel celebrated its anniversary with a free event last week.

Catesby Projects hosted an open day to commemorate the opening of Catesby Tunnel, the modern vehicle testing facility.

The event for industry professionals followed the Industry Day hosted in 2021 to celebrate the tunnel’s inauguration. Since then, the tunnel has undergone several upgrades and improvements.

Charlie Smith, the sales and marketing coordinator at Catesby Projects, said: “We currently offer the tunnel as a blank canvas.”

Catesby Tunnel, with 2740 metres in length and more than eight metres in width, has been providing full-scale aerodynamic and performance data in real-world conditions since early November 2021.

The disused Victorian railway tunnel, which was built with thirty million bricks and operated until September 1966, underwent a multi-million-pound transformation to become a vehicle testing facility.

Catesby Projects' managing director, Rob Lewis, described testing a 600-meter-long radio cable for a railway company from Europe as "one of the most interesting" jobs at the test track. Rob said: “We didn’t imagine ever that our first big customer would be someone testing a radio.”

The team welcomed industry professionals to Catesby Tunnel on Wednesday, October 4.

The day was split into four identical two-hour sessions, each starting with an introductory presentation from Rob Lewis, followed by refreshments, exhibitions from industry-leading service providers, a live vehicle demonstration with a car based on a Ferrari Maranello, and a guided-driven tour of the tunnel.

The exhibitors included JRM Group, Bramble, Catesby Projects, Evolution Measurement, RML Group, EvoScann, Siemens, and Intrepid Control Systems. Charlie said: “Many of them provide services that we do not, so by working together, we can offer a complete package to the customer.”

Jon Paton, the group leader at Catesby Projects, said: “We just need the right customer to come along.”

Take a look at the gallery below with some of the photos shot by your Daventry Express reporter at the open day event held to showcase the site and encourage people to use it.