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Kent Viaduct
River Kent estuary, Arnside, Cumbria, UK
Kent Viaduct
associated engineer
Sir James William Brunlees
date  21st October 1856 - 24th July 1857
UK era  Victorian  |  category  Railway Viaduct  |  reference  SD454791
ICE reference number  HEW 936
photo  ICE R&D Fund
The first use of jetted piles in the British Isles was for the construction of two major railway viaducts across river estuaries joining Morecambe Bay, for the Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway. One of these is Kent Viaduct over the River Kent estuary.
The second viaduct is the Leven Viaduct near Ulverstone, built at the same date. Both are long and consist of a large number of short spans between cast iron columns. The Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway joined the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway at Carnforth in 1857.
Kent Viaduct's 50 spans are 9.1m centre to centre. The supporting 254mm diameter columns are grouped, some raking, some vertical. All are founded on tubular cast iron piles with large discs at their bases, jetted into position through the sand and silt sea bed and filled with concrete.
The jetting method of sinking piles is used when the ground is sandy as a pile hammer would be impractical. Air or water (or both) is used under pressure to help the driving process.
Initially, there was a single railway track and each column group consisted of three vertical and one raking column. The doubling of the track in 1863 meant the widening of the viaduct. This brought the addition of another vertical and another raking column to each group.
Both viaducts originally had telescopic opening spans, 11m wide. The tracks were set at a height of 7.9m above water level. The viaducts originally had one wrought iron lattice girder spanning longitudinally under each running rail. These were replaced between 1885 and 1887 and some spans were altered.
By 1915, the cast iron columns had deteriorated to such an extent that it was decided to encase them in brickwork and concrete. This work was done to both viaducts.
Kent Viaduct is the longer of the two, at 477m. It cost 15,056 to build.
Main original contractor: James Featherstone, Manchester
Research: PD
reference sources   CEH North

Kent Viaduct