Network Rail is embarking on a refurbishment of Sankey Viaduct in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, which opened in 1830 and is the world’s oldest railway viaduct.
Network Rail is embarking on a refurbishment of Sankey Viaduct in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, which is the world’s oldest railway viaduct. New Civil Engineer reports that a team of 25 engineers will spend four months carrying out the work on the bridge, which will include repointing and brickwork repairs, and strengthening operations.
The 193 year old viaduct will be cleared of weeds and graffiti and three new pattress plates will be fitted. The metalwork will be painted in historic colours ahead of the 200th anniversary in 2030.
Network Rail capital delivery senior programme manager Mark Evans said: “It’s a privilege to look after so many significant buildings and structures across the rail network, but Sankey viaduct has got to be one of the unsung heroes of Victorian civil engineering.”
He added: “Its huge significance in the creation of the railway as we know it today is perhaps not so well known – but we’re hoping to change that. This restoration will not only make sure it looks good to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2030, but will also secure passenger and freight trains for the future too.”
Sankey Viaduct was designed by the renowned engineer George Stephenson to span the Sankey Valley, which contains Sankey Brook and the Sankey Canal and forms part of the route of the Liverpool and Manchester railway. It opened in 1830 after a three-year construction period.
The structure consists of nine semi-circular arches that are 50 m high and have a span of 15m, and it is sometimes known by an alternative name of the Nine Arches. It was granted Grade I listed status in 1966, and the dual tracks still carry regular passenger and freight services between Manchester and Liverpool.
The repointing work will be carried out with specialist heritage mixes in order to match the existing materials. The cost of the refurbishment will be £3.8m.