October 2014

It's easy to take for granted the awesome endeavours of 19th Century railway pioneers which thread us through, around or over the nation's natural barriers. It was an age of speculative adventure, built on innovation, will power and elbow grease.

But many magnificent creations were abandoned during the industrial vandalism of the Fifties and Sixties. Forgotten Relics of an Enterprising Age celebrates some of them.
Operating Notices

Welcome to the October update of Forgotten Relics.

K-Burn had a rare treat recently - a trip through the historic Scotland Street Tunnel that runs northwards from Princes Street under Edinburgh's 'New Town'. It was a tough one to construct, with sandy conditions at the north end and water ingress further south. The latter brought death with it, in circumstances that are unimaginable today.

And K-Burn's Scotland tour has continued with visits to the Eden and Motray viaducts - or what's left of them - on the former St Andrews branch. Although the decks have gone, their respective rivers still wash the masonry piers which supported the girderwork. If this kind of relic floats your boat, there are also two additions to our Demolished Viaducts page to awe at. The 17-archer near Crowhurst harmonised wonderfully with its landscape.

Newmilns Viaduct is even longer but is rather less imposing, threading its way through the East Ayrshire town past new housing and industrial units. It has a lot of character though - sandstone and engineering brick offer contrasting colours, best viewed from the park which it bisects. The corbelled refuges are worthy of note; so too is the westernmost skew span which reaches 71 feet over the River Irvine.

Tony Fisher's evocative pictures of the Great Central Railway in dereliction - captured in Nottingham during the Eighties - provide an excuse to tell the story of the London Extension, a showcase of engineering ambition. London’s Pall Mall Gazette reported on its opening in July 1898, an article which gets under the skin of its development, masterminded by Sir Edward Watkin.

We also pay a return visit to Ravenscar Tunnel near the lofty summit of the Scarborough & Whitby Railway. This was opened in 1885 on a similar alignment to one driven 12 years earlier as part of a failed scheme. The tunnel is wet but not excessively so; why then has much of the stonework lost its face? And what purpose did the timber frame that's embedded in the crown serve? Answers on a postcard please.

And just finally, I would like to pay tribute to my friend Ron Dunnabie who passed away in September, without whose support this website would not exist. Ron didn't take many photos or do much research, but he accompanied me on dozens of visits to disused tunnels, viaducts and stations up and down the country. He was a wonderful guy: always encouraging, ridiculously patient and up for any challenge, even if that meant being pushed into a tunnel through a hole that was patently too small! He will be much missed.

New this month
Newmilns Viaduct
Ravenscar Tunnel
as well as...
A newspaper report marking the opening of the Great Central's London Extension combines with a melancholy photo gallery showing the line's demise in Nottingham.
Scotland Street Tunnel
Eden & Motray viaducts
You can reach pages about these relics by clicking on their name. Across the site, new content is identified by a symbol whilst updated pages have a .
Main site areas
The site has stories about some of our more notable railway relics, with a hike through their history and reminiscences from those who worked there. You'll also find galleries showing dozens of bridges, viaducts, tunnels, earthworks, stations and junctions.
Online coverage of our disused network.
Bridges & viaducts
Great structures spanning a gap.
Tunnels & earthworks
Holes blasted
through hills.
Stations & junctions
Destinations torn from the timetable.

All the site areas are available via links in the tab bar and right hand column.

We'll add more relics over the coming months. We hope you enjoy your visit and come back to see more Forgotten Relics soon.

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