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Olive Mount Cutting (L&MR)
Wavertree, Liverpool, UK
Olive Mount Cutting (L&MR)
associated engineer
George Stephenson
date  1826 - 15th September 1830
UK era  Georgian  |  category  Walls/Abutments/Cuttings  |  reference  SJ391902
photo  © Colin Pyle and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Olive Mount Cutting is a long, narrow and deep manmade railway cutting constructed as part of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. It was the first railway cutting for which construction entailed a prodigious quantity of excavation. Since widened, it remains an impressive rock cut and is still used by mainline rail services.
The Liverpool & Manchester (opened 1830) was the first inter-city passenger railway. Its engineer, George Stephenson (1781-1848), had envisaged a line running to the north of the eventual route. However, opposition from landowning members of the nobility culminated in Parliament authorising a more southerly route.
The route adopted meant that a deep cutting was required to carry the railway’s twin tracks through the suburbs north of Wavertree in Liverpool. Using no more than hand tools and blasting powder, the workforce excavated 367,000 cu m of sandstone in a cutting some 3km long between stations at Olive Mount (Wavertree Technology Park) and Edge Lane (Broad Green). Originally only 6.1m wide, the cut is up to 21m deep.
The rock removed was used to build the Roby Embankment (SJ431906) and the Sankey Viaduct. The viaduct is now Grade I listed.
The deepest part of the cutting is crossed by the roadway over Mill Lane between Wavertree and Old Swan. The bridge is single-arch and of brick, with deep sandstone spandrels, and its springing is 9.1m above the cutting floor.
In the 1870s, Liverpool Lime Street Station (SJ351905) was extended to cope with the growing volume of rail traffic, and the number of lines entering the station increased. As part of this expansion, Olive Mount Cutting was widened to accommodate four tracks.
Though still well used, the cutting now accommodates only two through tracks, with three tracks at the west end.
Resident engineer: Mr Gilespie
Contractor (stone excavation): John & George Stevenson
Research: ECPK
"An Accurate Description of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and the Branch Railways to St. Helen's, Warrington, Wigan, and Bolton" by James Scott Walker, 3rd edition, J.F. Cannell, Liverpool, 1832
reference sources   CEH NorthBDCE1

Olive Mount Cutting (L&MR)