Thomas Bourne born 24/4/1799 in Cross Keys, Godley, at the age of 12, was appointed the tunnel's first traffic regulator when it opened in 1811. His father, John born in 1774 in Worcestershire was a miner. By 1807 he was living at Redbrook. He was appointed the tunnel's first superintendant and remained so until his death in 21/1/1818 when his address was given as Tunnel Mouth.
Thomas Bourne worked as traffic regulator for 37 years. The work included travelling over Standedge 4 times a day, seven days a week. Whilst the bargees legged through the tunnel the horses had to be led over the moor. A letter written by Thomas which still survives said "The first Boat Came through the Canell Came on Tuesday Morning March 25, 1811, And I travled 37 yrs. Withen 8 dayes, Backwards and Forwards 4 Times a Day Sundays an All unless the Canall Was Stopt and Carid Many Thousands of Money over and Never Was a Penny Short Nor Longer in my hands than is help"
Under changes made to the tunnel rules in March 1848, agents at each end of the tunnel gave a certificate to the "last boat at each boat entering the tunnel, also a red lamp, and the practice of sending a man through with the boats to be discontinued." It has been calculated that he covered 215,812 miles during his working life. He died in Marsden on 22/8/1851 aged 52.