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Solway Viaduct, site of
Solway Firth from Herdhill Scar, near Bowness-on-Solway, Cumbria
associated engineer
Sir James William Brunlees
date  October 1865 27th June 1868 (opened 1869)
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  NY211628
ICE reference number  HEW 714
In 1868, Sir James Brunlees completed the Solway Viaduct, then one of the longest railway viaducts in Europe. More than 1.8km in length, Solway Viaduct stretched across Solway river, 2km downstream of Port Carlisle. It was demolished in 1934-35.
Solway viaduct had 181 braced trestle single piers comprising five 300mm diameter cast iron columns, the inner three columns of which were vertical and the outer two raking. It also had 12 braced trestle double piers comprising duplicate singles braced together. There were 192 spans of 9m and 12 spans of 1.5m over the double piers. The rails were supported on wrought iron lattice girders that were supplied by the Falkirk Iron Company.
Solway Viaduct was built for the Solway Junction Railway. It allowed trains from north Cumbria to cross the Solway Firth from Herdhill Scar, Cumbria to Seafield, near Annan, Dumfries & Galloway Region and to join the West Coast Main Line just south of Eaglesfield.
Unlike the Kent and Leven viaducts that were also designed by Brunlees, Solway Viaduct did not have an opening span. It was designed with one in mind, but the original plans for a drawbridge section were abandoned and substituted by standard bays. This brought all sea-going traffic to an abrupt halt near the mouth of Solway Firth, and caused the demise of Port Carlisle. This led to the replacement of the Carlisle Canal by a railway along the same route.
When it opened in 1869, Solway Viaduct was found to have cracked columns, probably due to the water, with which they were filled, freezing in winter. Over the winter of 1875-6, drainage holes were drilled in 33 of the columns. The viaduct was partially destroyed by ice in 1881, and all the external cast iron raking columns were replaced in wrought iron. New guard rails were fitted outside the rails on either side of the viaduct.
Traffic was resumed across the viaduct on 1st May 1884. The line was transferred to the Caledonian Railway in 1895 and to the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1923. The viaduct became disused in 1921 and was demolished in 1934-5.
Resident engineer: A. McKerrow (Solway Junction Railway)
main contractor: Waring Brothers & Eckersley
Ironwork: Falkirk Iron Company
Research: PD and AJD
reference sources   CEH North

Solway Viaduct, site of