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Merrygill Viaduct
Hartley Beck, near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Merrygill Viaduct
associated engineer
Sir Thomas Bouch
date  1859 - 4th July 1861
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  NY784084
ICE reference number  HEW 2630
photo  Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
The nine-arch Merrygill railway viaduct originally carried the single track of the Stainmore Railway across Hartley Beck, east of Kirby Stephen in Cumbria. The railway closed in the 1960s and the viaduct is now used by pedestrians.
The Stainmore Railway, or more correctly the South Durham & Lanchashire Union Railway, was a transport initiative of the 1850s. It took a route over Stainmore Summit, which has an elevation of 420m above sea level, making Stainmore the second highest railway line in England. It opened in 1861.
Merrygill Viaduct and its nearby sister Podgill Viaduct, are Grade II listed structures. They were both built in local limestone. Both were widened in 1889-92 to enable them to carry a second rail track. To accomplish this, almost identical structures were built alongside each viaduct and tied into the originals.
Slightly curved in plan, Merrygill is 112m long and was originally 3.65m between parapets. The current width is 7.8m. At its maximum height, the railway was 23.7m above the stream below. Safety refuges have been created by omitting short lengths of rusticated-stone parapet and replacing them with cast iron plates bolted to the parapet each side, making thinner walls at those locations.
The nine semicircular arches each span 9.1m and are framed by a single row of rusticated voussoir stones, just as they are at Podgill. The parapets above have projecting capstones, 330mm wide. At each end of the viaduct, on each side a single pilaster runs the height of the stonework and parapet, topped by a rectangular monumental stone. The abutments feature curved wing walls.
Near the top of each pier can be seen double rows of projecting stones. These were used to support the temporary timber centering needed for construction of the arches.
The viaduct was acquired by the Northern Viaduct Trust in 2005. They have undertaken restoration work and the viaduct now forms part of the their 'railway trail'.
Contractor: Chambers & Hilton (1859-61)
Research: PD and AJD
bibliography
"Exploring the Eden Viaducts"
The Northern Viaduct Trust, information leaflet
www.nvt.org.uk
Location

Merrygill Viaduct