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Victoria Viaduct
River Wear, south-east of Washington, Tyne and Wear, UK
Victoria Viaduct
associated engineer
Thomas Elliot Harrison
James Walker
date  1836 - 28th August 1838
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  NZ318545
ICE reference number  HEW 156
photo  Jane Joyce
Victoria Viaduct, originally named Victoria Bridge, was constructed in 1838 as part of the Leamside branch of the Durham Junction Railway, which transported more coal than passengers. In 1844 it became part of the main line between London and Gateshead.
Ideas for an iron bridge at this spot were scrapped in favour of a masonry structure. The design is by James Walker, modified and supervised by the railway’s engineer Thomas Elliot Harrison. It was built using stone from the nearby Penshaw Quarry. Walker was inspired by the Roman bridge (Caius Julius Lacer, AD106) at Alcántara in Spain, erected in the reign of emperor Trajan. The Roman bridge features spans of 30m, carrying a roadway at over 50m above the River Tagus.
Victoria Viaduct is 247m long and has four main spans — of 30.5m, 48.8m, 43.9m and 30.5m — with three further spans of 6.1m at each end. The single rail track is 36.6m above the river and the structure has an overall width of 7.1m. The piers are founded on rock at depths to 12m below flood level.
The bridge's official opening date, 28th June 1838, was timed to coincide with Queen Victoria’s coronation, though the bridge was actually completed two months later and didn't carry trains until 1839.
The viaduct was part of the mainline route between Newcastle and London until 1872, when the line was diverted through Durham. It carried passenger trains until around 1985, and freight until 1991 when the freight terminal at Follingsby closed.
However, Victoria Viaduct has not been officially closed, though it has been mothballed. In December 2006, discussions on re-opening the line for local rail traffic were instigated. The structure is Grade II* listed.
Contractor: John Gibb & Son of Aberdeen
Research: ECPK
bibliography
www.nce.co.uk
www.transportheritage.com
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Victoria Viaduct