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Charlton Viaduct
Kidd's Lane, off A37, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset
associated engineer
Not known
date  1874
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  ST627436
ICE reference number  HEW 1508
Charlton Viaduct was the longest of seven viaducts built for the 26-mile stretch of the Somerset & Dorset Railway between Evercreech Junction and Bath, which opened in 1874 and closed in 1966.
The line crossed the difficult terrain of the Mendip hills and, consequently, had five tunnels and the seven large viaducts. Charlton, at 45ft, was not the tallest — that accolade goes to the Bath Road viaduct, also in Shepton and also still standing. However, it was the longest and was perhaps the masterpiece of the entire Somerset & Dorset Railway.
The viaduct comprises 27 arches, each of 28ft span, and is built of squared rubble limestone masonry, except for the arch barrels, which are brick. It falls at a gradient of 1 in 55 from each end to the mid-point. Because it is curved, every third pier is buttressed on the outside of the curve and the ninth and eighteenth piers are thickened to resist horizontal forces from the segmental arches.
The original structure was built for a single track but between 1888 and 1894 most of the line was doubled, so the viaduct was widened by about 15ft on the inside of its curve. In 1946 two of the viaduct's arches collapsed and had to be rebuilt.
The viaduct crosses a valley containing the River Sheppey, at this point just a small stream. Since the closure of the railway, it has been privately owned and maintained but can still easily be seen, as a footpath passes directly underneath.
Research: AM
reference sources   CEH South

Charlton Viaduct