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Lawley Street Railway Viaduct

A Grade II Listed Building in Nechells, Birmingham

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Latitude: 52.483 / 52°28'58"N

Longitude: -1.8773 / 1°52'38"W

OS Eastings: 408432

OS Northings: 287238

OS Grid: SP084872

Mapcode National: GBR 657.DS

Mapcode Global: VH9YX.DVXD

Plus Code: 9C4WF4MF+63

Entry Name: Lawley Street Railway Viaduct

Listing Date: 8 July 1982

Last Amended: 3 July 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1076135

English Heritage Legacy ID: 217681

Location: Birmingham, B7

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Nechells

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

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A viaduct of 1838, designed by Joseph Locke, to take the Grand Junction railway line into the Curzon Street Terminus Station. On top of this a later viaduct of 1893 was built to carry trains through to New Street Station.


A viaduct of 1838, designed by Joseph Locke, to take the Grand Junction railway line into the Curzon Street Terminus Station. On top of this a later viaduct of 1893 was built to carry trains through to New Street Station. A further viaduct was also built to the north-west of the original viaduct abutting, and largely masking, its north-west face, which is not included as part of this item.
MATERIALS: red brick with sandstone dressings to the earlier arches and red and blue engineering brick to the later C19 structure.

PLAN: the 1838 viaduct consists of 28 arches (each numbered, starting at the south-western end), with curved wing walls to either end. At the south-western end, the later-C19 viaduct is higher and the arches of the upper viaduct keep pace with the rhythm of the earlier, lower structure. As the height of these later arches diminishes, further to the north-east, from arch No. 6 onwards, there are four smaller upper arches to each lower arch, and from arch 13 onwards the walling of the upper viaduct is straight and without arches.

The piers along both sides are faced with stone to their ends but of brick to their inner flanks. These outward faces, running along Viaduct Street, each have massive blocks of stone with chamfered horizontal joints. To their tops are projecting rectangular impost blocks that carry the segmental arches of the viaduct, which have stone voussoirs with stepped upper edges and chamfers. Each keystone connects to a simple stone entablature that runs for the length of the viaduct. Above this is the later-C19 viaduct of blue engineering brick. Each arch of the 1838 viaduct is numbered with an oval metal plaque which is either placed on or close to the keystone. The majority of the archways have been enclosed by later-C19 or C20 brick walls. The exceptions are arches No. 1 to No. 6, of which Nos. 2 and 5 accommodate the traffic of Middleway. Archway No. 15 crosses St James’ Place and arch No. 27 crosses Northumberland Street. The exposed inner flanks of these arches all show stone quoins to either end with Flemish bond walling between and a continuous deep band at the level of the springing of the arch. The later viaduct running along the north-west side of the 1838 viaduct has higher, flat-topped arches, and the lower part of the earlier structure can be clearly seen on this side, including the stone voussoirs, although the entablature has been removed.

Pursuant to s1 (5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the later-C19 viaduct, which abuts the north flank of the viaduct dating from 1837-8 by Joseph Locke, is not of special architectural or historic interest.


The Grand Junction Railway connected Birmingham with Liverpool. A temporary Birmingham station was opened in 1837 at Vauxhall, and the Curzon Street Station was opened in the following year after the completion of the present viaduct and a bridge over the Grand Junction Canal. The viaduct was later raised in height in 1893 by the addition of a superstructure of blue brick engineering which was designed to take trains into the goods station, which Curzon Street became in the later C19.

Reasons for Listing

The Lawley Street Railway Viaduct is statutorily listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: the viaduct is amongst the first large-scale railway constructions in England, designed by the pioneer railway engineer, Joseph Locke;
* Architectural quality: the run of 28 arches is an accomplished classical composition which has considerable power;
* Degree of survival: despite the fact that the structure supports and is flanked on its northern side by two later-C19 viaducts, its original form remains largely intact and is clearly legible and the later viaduct, which is supported by the earlier structure, gives a clear indication of the development of railway transport throughout the C19.

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