Fontburn Viaduct

(Photo 9 © Lilian Peverley/Fontburn Remembered)

1863 saw the passing of an Act allowing the Northumberland Central Railway to construct a cross-country link between the Wansbeck Railway and the Berwick-Kelso route. This would head north from Scot's Gap, passing through the market town of Rothbury. It was this southern section, covering a distance of 13 miles, which was the initial - and ultimately sole - focus of attention, with work getting underway in August 1869. The service was inaugurated in November 1870, operated by the North British Railway into which it was absorbed in 1872.

The line's major engineering feat was a 12-arch viaduct over the River Font, structure number NDC/21. This hoisted the single track over the water at a height of 60 feet, its 30-foot span masonry arches extending for around 150 yards between the substantial approach embankments. The piers and spandrels are formed of rock-faced stone. No proper parapet is provided - just a wire fence.

As the 19th Century dawned, those travelling over the structure could watch progress with the building of Fontburn Reservoir and the associated water works, to which the viaduct acts as a backdrop on their eastern side. Unofficially, passenger trains were already stopping thereabouts by the time a halt was established in 1904.

With economic reality dawning, the branch's passenger service was withdrawn in 1952; freight continued to run until 11th November 1963. Track lifting took place the following year.

The viaduct's northernmost pier is clamped together with bullhead rail and tie bars; that apart, it appears to be in good condition and is certainly an attractive addition to the landscape. The structure was afforded a Grade II listing in May 1987 and is attended to by its owners, British Railways Board (Residuary).

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