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Latitude: 51.7035 / 51°42'12"N
Longitude: -4.0537 / 4°3'13"W
OS Eastings: 258182
OS Northings: 202527
OS Grid: SN581025
Mapcode National: GBR GW.6LV8
Mapcode Global: VH4JV.PFBY
Entry Name: Viaduct at Morlais Junction East (partly in Grovesend community)
Listing Date: 2 March 1998
Last Amended: 2 March 1998
Source ID: 19452
Building Class: Transport
Location: Spanning the River Loughor some 3/4 mile (1.27km) S of Hendy, on the Glamorgan-Carmarthenshire border.
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
Built by the Great Western Railway as part of the Swansea District Line (also known as the Swansea Avoiding Line) and opened on 14 July 1913. The rationale behind the line was partly to carry coal more easily from the Amman valley to Swansea docks, but more importantly to provide a fast link to London for passengers docking at Fishguard on the transatlantic route.
The Edwardian period saw a rapid expansion in transatlantic passenger traffic between New York and Europe. Traditionally the port of Liverpool (3,017 nautical miles from New York) had dominated the North Atlantic route. But fierce competition between steamship companies led to its supremacy being challenged. The White Star Line was able to cut the journey time by opening a service on the shorter route between New York and Holyhead (2,943 miles) and this prompted the Cunard Company to go one better by opening Fishguard to transatlantic liners (2,902 miles) cutting the distance still further.
The first Cunard liner to call at Fishguard was the Mauretania, then the largest and fastest liner afloat, which left New York at 10 a.m. on 25th August 1909 and arrived at Fishguard at 1.15 p.m. on the 30th. The passengers were in London by 8 o'clock and the mail at 6.40 the same evening. Cunard liners continued to use Fishguard regularly until 1914 with six to eight services a month, with three or four special trains usually running to London off each boat.
The speed of the London rail link was critical. The building of the viaduct at Morlais Junction on the Swansea district Line allowed trains to avoid delays in Swansea by by-passing the city altogether, thus providing a faster and more reliable service. The economic importance of the line was, however, short-lived. With the outbreak of war in 1914, Fishguard fell quickly into decline, to be eclipsed after 1918 by bigger ports such as Cherbourg and Southampton.
Monumental viaduct some 200m long and rising over 20m above the surface of the River Loughor below. Built in red engineering brick (English bond). 11 semi-circular arches, each spanning some 30m. The five central arches have projecting breakwaters to piers. Piers have slight batter to impost level and projecting banded course (five bricks high) below springing . Arches themselves are seven bricks deep with an upper moulded brick course (roll-shaped). Wall is corbelled out in four courses below parapet. Parapet has flat stone coping and embrasures, with iron safety-rails, every second arch.
Historically important monument of rail engineering which forms a very prominent landmark in the lower Loughor valley.
Other nearby listed buildings