Dorset’s impressive railway viaducts

DORSET is full of railway lines and train stations, but have you ever stopped to notice some of the county’s impressive viaducts? 

These incredible bridge-like structures with magnificent arches were introduced to carry steam locomotives across land and water during the industrial revolution.

The United Kingdom thrived during the 1800s as a result of the revolution and majestic viaducts became a byproduct of the country’s great rail achievements.

READ MORE: The lost and abandoned RAF bases of Dorset

READ MORE: More lost and abandoned railway stations of Dorset

The term viaduct is derived from the Latin and ducere, they were derived from Roman aqueducts which were used to transfer water and waste to farms and cities. 

Both aqueducts and viaducts are iconically known for having incredible architecture – like the Roman aqueducts, most viaducts have a series of arches of roughly equal length.

Here are four incredible viaducts to spot in Dorset: 

Corfe Railway Viaduct

Bournemouth Echo:

Viaduct by Corfe Castle – (Pierre Terre, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Swanage Railway is a railway branch line from near Wareham, Dorset to Swanage, Dorset, England, opened in 1885 and now operated as a heritage railway.

The independent company which built it was amalgamated with the larger London and South Western Railway in 1886. 

Due to the rise and fall of the earth’s natural gradient in the area, the viaduct was a necessity to keep the line in shape. 

The impressive viaduct can be seen at Studland Road (B3351) next to Corfe.

Grimstone Viaduct

Bournemouth Echo:

The viaduct at Grimstone (wikimedia commons)

The Grimstone Viaduct is a railway bridge on the Castle Cary-Weymouth “Heart of Wessex” line.

Designed by the world-famous Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this stunning viaduct was built as part of the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway line.

It was first opened by the Great Western Railway in 1857 and is now Grade II listed.

The viaduct consists of three arches; the central arch passes over the road from Grimstone to Sydling St. Nicholas and is connected to the arches either side of it by a series of arches within the bridge.

Bourne Valley Viaducts

Bournemouth Echo:

The double viaducts in Branksome (Chris Downer, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bournemouth East Station was the town’s first railway station which opened in 1870 – four years later, Bournemouth West welcomed its first passengers.

Increasing demand for connection between the two stations led to the first viaduct being built by London & South Western Railway in 1888, consisting of ten curved arches.

The viaduct is built from locally fired bricks and four of its piers feature pilasters with plinths and capstones; there is a masonry string course and triangular insets within the spandrels.

Roadways run beneath the third and eighth arches which have king piers either side of them.

In 1893, another viaduct was built on its west side as part of a short line that created a triangle of routes, enabling trains to bypass Bournemouth West. 

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