Appeal to raise £100,000 for Northumberland railway viaduct repairs meets with amazing response

An appeal to save a historic railway viaduct has raised an incredible £70,000 towards its £100,000 target in just two weeks.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:12 am

The Aln Valley Railway is fund-raising for repairs to the Cawledge viaduct, the most significant structure on the railway’s route into Alnmouth.

The Cawledge Viaduct Appeal aims to raise a six-figure sum to enable stage one of the repairs to commence towards the end of 2021.

Michael Proctor, chairman of the Aln Valley Railway, said: “I'm truly overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters in pledging over £70,000 in just a couple of weeks. That's more than two-thirds of our target.

The Cawledge Viaduct. Picture: Tom Lloyd/AVR

“The Cawledge viaduct is the jewel in the crown of the Aln Valley Railway. It's both an amazing feat of Victorian engineering and a beautiful piece of architecture. Sadly, years of neglect have left it in poor condition.

"This project will make sure that it's still there for people to enjoy for the next 100 years.”

It is believed to be the country’s oldest, existing heritage railway viaduct. Constructed by the contractors Rush and Lawkin, work started in August 1848 and took almost two years to complete. The viaduct was designed by Robert Stephenson and is built to a similar design as the nearby Lesbury Viaduct, on the Alnmouth to Berwick main line.

The first stage of repairs is to complete the waterproofing. The waterproof membrane is a heavy duty plastic sheet which will be laid to a crossfall to collect all future rainfall on the walkway and track. This will be drained by a new perforated drain pipe that runs along the whole viaduct and discharges to the burn below.

A cross-section of the Cawledge Viaduct.

This is what will need to be dug out carefully as it is just above the gas main and will require the track, dividing fence and walkway to be removed. The membrane will be sealed to the masonry parapets and laid on a sand-bed.

This ensures no leaks into the structure below, as it is this water freezing and thawing in the arches that has caused all the brickwork damage. The blocked brick drainage chambers will be broken down in each pier to below the membrane level and plated over.

For more information on how you can contribute, please email [email protected] or visit www.alnvalleyrailway.co.uk

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