|Cannington Viaduct is a pioneering concrete structure on the
Lyme Regis branch. The railway was
authorised by the Axminster and Lyme Regis Light Railway Order, 1899 and the
viaduct is by far the largest structure to have been built on a light railway
The viaduct has ten elliptical arches and slender battered piers. It is up to 92 feet high and 200 yards long. The viaduct was used by trains for only 62 years, from 1903 to 1965.
The piers were built by constructing an aerial ropeway across the valley, from which liquid concrete could be deposited into shuttering. The marks of the shuttering, which give the appearance of blockwork, can clearly be seen. Pre-cast concrete blocks were cast into the top of the piers. These were used to support timber formwork off which the arches were constructed. The arches and spandrels are pre-cast components.
While the viaduct was under construction the west end settled. It was stabilised by adding pairs of brick arches within the third arch from the west end, giving the viaduct a unique appearance. The arches were built using pale cream bricks, in order to match the concrete reasonably closely. Old rails were used as bracing between them. The viaduct caused a severe weight restriction on the branch, which also had many sharp curves and steep gradients. Almost to the end the line was worked by locomotives built in 1885, because no more suitable design could be found.
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This page was created 10 January 2010