Autumn 2015

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 autumn update of Forgotten Relics.

Our opportunity to explore and celebrate disused railway structures diminished very slightly over the summer as the line between Newcraighall and Tweedbank - at the northern end of the former Waverley route - returned to operational status. This has taken two substantial viaducts and three tunnels beyond the scope of our website. To mark this auspicious event, we bring you the story of Bowshank Tunnel - the longest of those three - an apparently modest structure but one with a chequered past that’s certainly worth exposing.

Friargate bridge in Derby is far from modest. A product of Andrew Handyside’s foundry, it exudes grandeur…or at least it did before neglect prompted its decline into a rather sorry state. A vigorous local campaign group is now pressing for full restoration and the City Council is supportive, allocating £260,000 towards this aim with a view to extracting further funding from the National Lottery's deep pockets.

Wilden Viaduct in Stourport-on-Severn presents two contrasting faces, depending on how you look at it. From the south, it appears in good nick and has a pleasing form, with a 55-foot skew span across the river flanked by four smaller arches. But go around the other side and it’s a different story with the pier tops succumbing to the blight of destructive tree growth and patch brick repairs uglifying the spandrels.

Whilst walkers put their best foot forward through the benign Up bore, far more characterful is the overlooked Oxendon Down Tunnel next door. Beyond its imposing portals are impressive calcite deposits, elegant refuges and two noteworthy deviations in alignment, one of which contorts the lining beyond all reasonable explanation. And then there are the peculiar channels of missing brickwork running along the haunches. There's lots to see and wonder about.

Beneath Glasgow’s West End Park, K-Burn has enjoyed an equally fascinating adventure in Kelvingrove Tunnel which demanded four different construction methods. Yes, four. Two of them - “core tunnelling” and the “concrete safety arch” - were devised for railways passing under built-up areas, directly below buildings and streets respectively. Of course, none of this ingenuity is apparent in the tunnel: to the visitor, it’s just a brick tube. There is though a fabulous full-width shaft to awe at.

A more conventional approach to tunnel construction is described in our Tunnel Vision video which has been updated and extended to include sequences on portals, drainage and hidden shafts. In an age when health and safety regulates everything - even things it shouldn’t - it’s impossible to imagine spending 12 hours a day, six days a week doing a job that could kill you in an instant. But that was the reality faced by thousands of railway navvies in the 19th century. We don’t really have much cause to complain about life in 2015, do we?

New this month
Wilden Viaduct
Oxendon Down Tunnel
as well as...
With the opening of the Borders Railway, operational status is restored to three tunnels, one of which has a very chequered history.
Kelvingrove Tunnel
Friargate 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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