Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,955 pages of information and 233,606 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Welwyn Viaduct

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The longest viaduct on the Great Northern Railway, designed by William Cubitt

The Welwyn Viaduct, also called Digswell Viaduct is a railway viaduct that carries the East Coast Main Line over the River Mimram and a locally important landmark. It is located between Welwyn Garden City and Digswell and is just to the south of Welwyn North railway station.

The viaduct is around 1,560 feet (475 m) long and comprises forty arches of 30 ft (9 m) span, and is 100 ft (30 m) high from ground level to trackbed. It is built of brick fired from brick clay quarried on site during construction, and took two years to build, including the construction of embankments at both ends which required the movement of around one million tons of earth by human and horse power. It was designed by William Cubitt and styled after a Roman aqueduct.

It was opened on 6 August 1850

It carries the East Coast Main Line, which has to narrow from four tracks to two to cross the viaduct, making it a bottleneck restraining capacity over this strategic transport route. This problem is exacerbated by Welwyn North railway station situated at the northern end of the viaduct, which blocks the line while trains are stationary. Several ideas to overcome the limitations of the viaduct and station without damaging the viaduct's essential historic character and rhythmic design are periodically discussed. The line was electrified in the 1970s.

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