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Chelfham Viaduct
Chelfham Barton, near Barnstaple, Devon, UK
Chelfham Viaduct
associated engineer
F.W. Chanter
date  1896 - 16th May 1898
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  SS608357
ICE reference number  HEW 1028
photo  © Martyn Davies and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
A spectacular remnant of the narrow gauge Lynton & Barnstaple Railway, Chelfham Viaduct crosses the Stoke Rivers valley and is the largest narrow gauge railway structure in Britain. It was designed by F.W. Chanter, the railway's engineer.
The 121m long viaduct curves in plan at the southern end and is 21.3m high. It has eight yellow Marland brick arches supported by tapered brick piers with masonry bases. Each arch spans 7.3m.
The brickwork facing covers a filling of concrete made using beach sand. Salt from the sand leaches through the bricks and causes mottling on the surface. This may provide some protection against frost damage.
The narrow gauge (600mm wide) Lynton & Barnstaple Railway was closed by Southern Railways on 29th September 1935 and parts of it were dismantled. The cost of constructing the line was greater than anticipated and in the 20th century the railway could not compete with road travel. After closure, the viaduct's parapets were removed down to about 300mm above ballast level.
On 25th February 1965, the viaduct became a Grade II listed structure.
British Railways Board (Residuary) Ltd are responsible for maintenance of the viaduct. In 2000, together with the Railway Heritage Trust and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust, they completed a programme of restoration.
Works included covering the deck with a waterproof membrane and restoring the ballast track bed, installing proper rainwater drainage, new parapet walls and repainting the brick arches. If track was laid, the viaduct could again carry trains over the valley.
In fact, the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway is being reinstated and the first section at Woody Bay station reopened on 11th May 2003.
Research: ECPK
reference sources   CEH South

Chelfham Viaduct