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Chorley Flying Arches
2.5 km northwest of Chorley Station, Lancashire
Chorley Flying Arches
associated engineer
Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd
date  1840 - 1841
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Walls/Abutments/Cuttings  |  reference  SD579193
ICE reference number  HEW 751
photo  donation
The flying buttress arch is a rare form of construction on the railways and these 16 near Chorley are the only ones left on the British network.
They were designed to strengthen the retaining walls on a cutting on the Bolton & Preston railway, which opened in 1843. Their designer, Adie, was concerned that clay behind the walls might swell and force them inwards, collapsing them onto the line.
The 16 masonry arches are set at 5.03m centres and span 7.7m with a rise of only 1.12m at their centres. Across the central section of each arch, where the thickness is only a single 300mm stone, an extra course of flat flag stones has been laid to prevent rainwater from damaging the masonry. The arches spring from the masonry retaining walls at a height of 3.45m and rise to 4.6m at their centres.
The retaining walls are 1.1m thick at the base and 600mm thick at the top, with vertical rear faces and battered (sloping) front faces. They are founded on engine cylinders, which Adie considered to be more suitable than concrete for the wet ground.
There used to be a similar but larger set of arches at Camden Town in London but they were removed years ago.
Main contractor: Smith & Hattersley
Research: PHEW
"The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway" by J. Marshall
David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1969, volume one
reference sources   CEH NorthINCH

Chorley Flying Arches