(Photo 10 © Roger Hepworth)
The Midland Railway's eight-mile route from Royston Junction to Thornhill was authorised under the 1898 West Riding Lines Act, which included lines to Huddersfield, Halifax and Bradford. First trafficked in 1905 after three years construction, it connected with the Lancashire & Yorkshire's network at Thornhill Junction and featured a short tunnel as well as two substantial viaducts. 1st March 1906 saw the opening of a two-mile spur to Savile Town Goods from a junction near Horbury Bridge. This would have served as Dewsbury's passenger station had the full plans come to fruition.
Intended principally for freight, the route was used by Bradford-St Pancras services for a 12-year period between the two world wars. The eastern end of the line closed in May 1968 but trains continued to use the western section until August, bringing materials to the M1 motorway which was then under construction. Track lifting took place the following year.
The viaduct at Horbury Bridge, structure ROY/26, comprises 17 arches - two groups of eight, either side of a larger skew span across the main Wakefield-Huddersfield road. This springs from stone skewbacks; the wedge-shaped piers that support it feature pairs of full-height pilasters on their longer side, with masonry copings.
The rest of the structure is built from engineering brick. Each arch is formed of six rings. End to end, it measures 310 yards, with a 26 feet wide deck and a slight curve to the north at its eastern end. The piers are at 50-foot centres and have cantilevered refuges above them, on alternating sides. Architecturally attractive, string courses are incorporated below the parapet and above each arch.
The structure was recently the focus of some repointing work by its owner, British Railways Board (Residuary).