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British Industrial History

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Dowery Dell Viaduct

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Dowery Dell Viaduct.
Dowery Dell Viaduct.

Dowery Dell, near Hunnington in Worcestershire, was notable for an iron railway viaduct that carried the Halesowen to Longbridge railway until it was dismantled in 1964.

The viaduct was remarkable in being a rare example of a lattice girder supported on trestles, a combination of which there may have been only one other example (fortunately still extant) in Britain, at Bennerley Viaduct, though in that instance the trestles are not as high. On other well-known trestle-supported viaducts, such as Meldon, Belah, and Crumlin, the superstructure is (or was) not a lattice, being typically a Warren truss; and other lattice girders are low structures supported typically on iron caissons, such as Kew Railway Bridge.

A walk along the footpath that follows the railway route reveals the brick pillar bases that remain in the dell.

1878: 'HALESOWEN VIADUCT.- This viaduct, which is now being constructed by Mr. Tillotson, on New Dock Bridge Works, Hunslet, presents some novel features in iron construction. Its magnitude is considerable, consisting, as it does, of ten spans of 60 feet each, making with the piers and abutments, a total length of 660 feet. The highest pier is 96 ft. 6 in. in height, and the rail level is 11 ft. higher, making the total height at the centre 107 ft. 6 in. to the rail level. The peculiarity of the construction is in the piers, the vertical members of which consist of stout H irons (instead of the cast iron columns usually employed in such cases), 12 inches by 7.5 inches and 7/8 in. thick. These are firmly braced together by horizontal H irons, and their rigidity further ensured by diagonal bars, the whole forming and exceedingly elegant and light-looking structure, although it possesses ample strength. The girders resting upon the piers and carrying the railway are 6 feet deep, of the ordinary lattice construction, and are supported at the necessary intervals upon bed plates furnished with rollers to allow of the movement consequent upon contraction and expansion of the girders due to variations of temperature. This is the is the first viaduct of any magnitude constructed in England with the vertical members of H iron.'[1]

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Sources of Information

  1. Leeds Mercury, 9 September 1878