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Railway Viaducts over South Esk River

A Category B Listed Building in Montrose, Angus

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.7061 / 56°42'21"N

Longitude: -2.4775 / 2°28'39"W

OS Eastings: 370859

OS Northings: 757256

OS Grid: NO708572

Mapcode National: GBR VX.TQKL

Mapcode Global: WH8RJ.XPDW

Entry Name: Railway Viaducts over South Esk River

Listing Date: 8 June 2004

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397504

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49864

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Montrose

County: Angus

Electoral Ward: Montrose and District

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Description

RAILWAY VIADUCT:

1881, designed by W R Galbraith, built by Sir William Arrol. 16-span viaduct (total length 440m) of latticed wrought iron girders with slight convex curve to each span, supported on 15 pairs of cross-braced cylindrical piers made of riveted wrought iron plates. To SW end, brick abutment with rectangular piers clasping iron structure; sandstone copes and band course; short sloping wing wall to E, longer canted sloping wing wall to W. To NE end, brick abutment with rectangular piers clasping iron structure; sandstone copes and moulded band course.

RAILWAY VIADUCT:

1879, Sir Thomas Bouch. 17-span slightly curved brick viaduct; semicircular arches on slightly battered rectangular piers; A92 road runs beneath southernmost arch. Red brick (replaced with newer, matching brick in several areas), predominantly English bond; roughly tooled stone band course above arches, low parapet with plain metal railings; to W side of southmost arch, to band course, small raised shield bearing initials, possibly 'RIN' and dated 1879. Various reinforcement plates, applied predominantly regularly; railway track reinforcement applied to soffit of northmost arch. To E side of S end, sloping stone coped wing wall.

Statement of Interest

The South Esk Viaducts were built as part of the North British Arbroath and Montrose Railway; the Act for the establishment of the line received its Royal assent in 1871. However, the commencement of construction was delayed for several years by the slow progress of the Tay Bridge and the Dundee end of the line.

Construction of the South Esk Viaducts began in 1879 to the designs of Sir Thomas Bouch, the engineer who designed the ill-fated first Tay Bridge, which famously collapsed on the 28th of December 1879, killing 75 passengers. Following the disaster, there were great concerns that the weaknesses that caused the failure of the Tay Bridge might also be present in the iron viaduct at Montrose. The worries were well founded; Bouch's plans showed a straight bridge yet the bridge as constructed had a distinct curve, and many of the piers were noticeably out of the perpendicular. In 1880 the iron viaduct was subjected to vigorous tests over a 36 hour period, using both dead and rolling loads. At the end of the test period, the structure was seriously distorted and pronounced to be unsafe. The southerly brick approach viaduct was retained. The existing replacement for the northmost viaduct was designed by W. R. Galbraith, a consulting engineer. The wrought iron lattice girder construction of the viaduct is based on designs developed by Sir John Macneill and James Thomson in the 1830s and 40s. The design was widely used by Victorian engineers, until rendered obsolete by the introduction of other American truss designs in the 1880s. South Esk Viaduct at Montrose was probably the last major bridge in the United Kingdom to be built with this type of bracing.

The brick viaduct, also known as Inchbrayock Railway Viaduct, is partly situated in Craig Parish, and was formerly listed in that parish (originally listed 15.01.1980, upgraded to B 20.01.89).

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