It's easy to take for granted the awesome endeavours of 19th Century railway pioneers which thread us through, around or over the nation's natural barriers. It was an age of speculative adventure, built on innovation, will power and elbow grease.
But many magnificent creations were abandoned during the industrial vandalism of the Fifties and Sixties. Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age celebrates some of them.
Welcome to the latest update of Forgotten Relics.
This spring, we put our best foot forward across the corrugated deck of Bennerley Viaduct to admire the handiwork of its hard-working group of Friends. Thanks to their efforts, it’s hoped this historic structure will soon carry a cycle path, just as the UK’s only other surviving wrought iron railway viaduct already does, at Meldon in Devon.
It would be a travesty if the structure was simply allowed to decay.
Already a step ahead is Nith Viaduct, crossing the river north of Dumfries town centre. It's hosted a cycle path since 2008 after it benefited from a refurbishment scheme carried out by Sustrans and Railway Paths. Curved in alignment, six of its spans are heavily skewed to minimise the impact of water flow. The engineer must have been stone cold sober when he calculated the size and shape of each stone block; the mind boggles as to how the stonemasons then executed his instructions.
Impressive and confident is Camps Viaduct in West Lothian, now open to folk on foot or bike (or K-Burn, our photographer), but formerly carrying a mineral branch to the local quarry. The structure seems to post-date the line’s opening by about 20 years so it is either a replacement for an earlier crossing of the River Almond or the line previously stopped short of it. Answers on a postcard please (or email if you prefer).
The South Yorkshire Junction Railway also went in search of minerals, but had a guaranteed haul of 6,510,000 tons over its first 21 years thanks to an agreement with Denaby Main Colliery. To reach the source of its black gold, the company had to drive Cadeby Tunnel, curving to the north between its perfectly formed stone portals.
Bromshall Tunnel is predominantly brick and, thanks to its gradient and infilled northern approach cutting, appears to host a canal for much of the year. MoonDog donned his wellies to explore its interior. Unsurprisingly calcite abounds, explaining the source of the floodwater: it penetrates the brickwork either side of the crown.
You can reach pages about these relics by clicking on their name. Across the site, new content is identified by a symbol whilst updated pages have a .
Main site areas
The site has stories about some of our more notable railway relics, with a hike through their history and reminiscences from those who worked there. You'll also find galleries showing dozens of bridges, viaducts, tunnels, earthworks, stations and junctions.