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Belah Viaduct, site of
River Belah, 9.6k east of Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Belah Viaduct, site of
associated engineer
Sir Thomas Bouch
date  19th July 1859 - 4th July 1860
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  NY839105
ICE reference number  HEW 967
photo  PHEW
The dramatic cast iron lattice piers of Belah Viaduct are, sadly, with us no more but, at a height of 59.74m, it was the highest railway viaduct in England at the time of its construction.
Belah Viaduct formed part of Contract No.4 for the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway, for which the completion date was 1st March 1860. The viaduct was opened for goods traffic on 4th July 1860 and for passenger traffic on 8th August that same year. Its foundation stone was laid by railway owner Henry Pease of Darlington on 25th November 1857.
The length of the viaduct was 317m and it was 7.3m wide, measured between its iron parapets. It strode across the valley in 16 spans at 18.3m centres, supported on open lattice iron skeleton piers founded on stone bases.
Each pier consisted of six, 305mm diameter cast iron columns rising from its stone base. The columns were joined every 1.5m, braced horizontally and vertically. Each pier as a whole tapered, many from 14.6m x 4.26m at the bottom to 6.7 x 4.26m at the top — the outer legs were raked.
The piers carried three lines of longitudinal trellis girders. These were strengthen in 1899 and again in 1933.
The ironwork contract (£16,407) took a further 18 months to complete after the piers were finished.
The railway line was closed in 1962 and the Belah Viaduct was demolished in June 1963.
Research PD and AJD
bibliography
“The Stainmore Railway” by K. Hoale, 1973
“The Hawnes Gill Viaduct...” by W. Cudworth
Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Vol 22, 1862
“Demolition of Belah Viaduct” by J.L.R. Birkbeck
The Railway Magazine, November 1983
Location

Belah Viaduct, site of