November 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 November update of Forgotten Relics. This month's offerings have an eclectic background, from an intercity main line to a short industrial branch.

Millers Dale Viaduct is a two-for-the-price-of-one promotion, with the original (and rather more elegant) South structure joined by a more workaday one in 1905 to create additional capacity through four-tracking. The latter is languishing in redundancy but its elder sibling has found function again as host to Derbyshire’s fabulous Monsal Trail.

About 30 miles to the north-east, a line devoted to King Coal - built collaboratively by the Hull & Barnsley and Great Central railways - overcame the River Don via Warmsworth bridge, comprising 600 tons of steel and cast iron. It’s a structure that is best photographed in sunshine to reveal the thousands of rivets that hold it all together.

In deepest Devon, the London & South Western Railway was obliged to build a branch to Great Torrington that the town didn’t justify. In the years before closure, the daily count of passengers on the route’s trains often totalled zero. But that shouldn’t detract from the engineering, the heaviest part involving the 196-yard Landcross Tunnel.

Glasgow is blessed with a labyrinth of subterranean passages but, in railway terms, the shortest-lived must surely have been Kelvindale Tunnel, a curvy little number that served Temple Gasworks, north-west of the city. Its operational status was retained for just 24 years, closing in 1920. Notable are its concrete portals, illustrative of how that era’s engineers were awakening to the material’s universal 'benefits'.

On 29th November 1844, the townfolk of Edinburgh were also awakening...but to tragedy. Four miners had been engulfed by floodwater which penetrated the heading they were driving for Scotland Street Tunnel. It was a dark day across the city, recorded eloquently by reporters from the Caledonian Mercury whose account we are reproducing.

This will be the last of Forgotten Relics’ monthly updates; they become seasonal from here on, with winter’s going live on 1st December. As compensation, November sees the launch of our 2015 Calendar for those who want a more frequent fix of disused structures to celebrate. Order yours by clicking here or follow the 2015 calendar link in the sidebar.

New this month
Millers Dale Viaduct
Kelvindale Tunnel
as well as...
Four miners died when the heading they were driving was penetrated by floodwater, causing a tidal wave which caused damage hundreds of yards away.
Landcross Tunnel
Warmsworth bridge
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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