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Waverley Viaduct
River Eden, Newtown, Carlisle, Cumbria, UK
associated engineer
Charles Jopp
John Furness Tone
date  1861
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  NY382565
The red sandstone railway viaduct over the River Eden at Carlisle once carried an extension of the Border Union Railway into the city. Constructed as part of the North British Railway network, it was an important link in the cross-border route. It is currently disused but there is a plan to re-open the viaduct to non-vehicular traffic.
The North British Railway (NBR) was set up with the aim of linking the railways of Scotland and England. The company behind it secured authorising Acts of Parliament in 1845 for a number of border branch lines, effectively blocking competing routes from other railways. Surveys and designs were carried out by John Miller (1805-83), the NBR’s engineer 1842-9.
The easterly line from Edinburgh via Musselburgh and Haddington to Berwick upon Tweed opened in June 1846. On 1st November 1849, the NBR opened between Edinburgh and Hawick. However, Parliament had not authorised a southerly line through to Carlisle. The company had several other border lines but the Hawick to Carlisle stretch eluded them.
In 1858, Parliament rejected rival Bills from NBR and the Caledonian Railway. At last, on 21st July 1859, the NBR obtained royal assent for extending their 69km Border Union Railway to Carlisle. The double-tracked line, part of the Edinburgh-Carlisle Waverley Route, opened fully on 1st July 1862 with Waverley Viaduct carrying the line over the River Eden in Carlisle.
The viaduct was constructed in 1861, and is also variously known as Waverley Viaduct Newtown, Eden Viaduct, Carlisle Canal Viaduct, Waverley Bridge and Engine Lonning Bridge. It crosses the river from Stainton and Etterby to Newtown at a skew angle with banked curve approaches, the south embankment having a tighter curvature.
The structure is approximately 150m long and is composed of six equal-span segmental arches, with the four central arches over the river. The arch soffits are of brick but the round-ended piers, spandrels, parapet walls, chamfered coping and voussoirs are of red sandstone blocks.
To aid construction, a temporary timber bridge was built for a tramway, used for the transportation of materials to the viaduct. In the Carlisle Journal of 15th January 1861, concerns were expressed about the potential for ice floe damage, though whether this affected the outcome is not known.
The engineers of the Border Union Railway were Charles Jopp (1820-95), who took over from Miller and was commissioned to direct the completion of the Waverley Route, and John Furness Tone (1822-81). William George Laws (1836-1904) worked with Tone on surveys for the line.
The route adopted from Hawick to Carlisle was Tone’s route via Riccarton Junction. He was engineer for the border counties and is named, with Jopp, on scheme drawings dated 1857-8. The 1858 drawings also note John Hawkshaw (1811-91, knighted in 1873) as consulting engineer — it was accepted practice to have work checked by a well-respected colleague.
Jumping forward to the 20th century, the viaduct was abandoned in 1966, and the Waverley Route closed by British Rail on 5th January 1969. Dismantling of the line commenced a few days later and was mostly completed in 1971, though some rail traffic to Longtown, north of Carlisle, continued until 1973.
Waverley Viaduct was left in place. While not a right of way, after the tracks were removed the viaduct was used as an unofficial pedestrian and cycle route. Hadrian's Wall path and cycleway, a national heritage footpath, passes beneath the south arch. Both river banks are part of the Cumbria Coastal Way footpath.
In April 1994, Waverley Viaduct was Grade II listed. Over time, vandalism and lack of maintenance led to the dislodgement of many parapet blocks and copings. In 2009, British Rail Board (Residuary) Ltd erected steel fencing at either end of the viaduct to prevent access. At some point steel railings were added on either side along its length.
On 1st October 2013, the UK's Highways Agency assumed ownership of the viaduct through its Historic Railway Estate, which is responsibie for more than 6,000 disused UK railway structures. In 2014, the agency undertook extensive repair and renovations to the value of £303,000. It also stated its support for local campaigners attempting to re-open the viaduct to non-vehicular traffic.
In January 2016, a report by route development consultant John Grimshaw & Associates in favour of re-opening the structure noted that "to ensure an ongoing long term maintenance support, it will be essential to create a network of popular walking and cycling routes focussed on the Viaduct, using the Viaduct and relying on the Viaduct".
In August 2016, the Carlisle Waverley Viaduct Trust revealed plans to create a bridleway across the viaduct, with support from Cycle Carlisle, Friends of Engine Lonning and crowdfunding, among others. Cumbria County Council has contributed to the cost of undertaking a feasibility study. The project is ongoing.
Research: ECPK
reference sources   BDCE2

Waverley Viaduct