This looks like a railway viaduct. But it’s really two, built right next to each other at different times.
They are both about half a mile North of Wolverton station, on the West Coast Main Line.
Robert Stephenson engineered the first of these viaducts for the London & Birmingham Railway, and work began in 1837. In September 1838 it opened, carrying two lines across the Ouse Valley.
The Great Ouse had to be diverted 900 feet North during the construction; the old river bed now lies under the South Embankment. To leave the river in place would have meant the viaduct would have to be twice as long as it is now.
Before the viaduct came the Haversham road crossed the Ouse at Mead Mill Bridge, about 800 feet South of the modern bridge. The mill had long gone by 1837, but it had been somewhere near the sweeping bend on the modern road.
The viaducts are actually just in Haversham-cum-Little Linford parish, not Wolverton. The parish boundary follows what had once been the bed of the river, hundreds of years before the railway came. It was a twisting course, between the modern river and where the 19th Century Ouse once ran before Robert Stephenson had it diverted.
Forty years after the viaduct was opened, two more lines were needed, and the second viaduct was built between 1878 and 1882 on the East side of the first one.
There’s an obvious seam in the arches where the two viaducts meet but they are not linked together. Because they are separate, if there was any differential settlement between them it wouldn’t put a strain into the structures.
It’s hard to appreciate today, but most of the work building the viaducts and the approaching embankments would have been done by hand.
If you’d like the visit the viaduct, there’s a car park close by on the Haversham road.
The piers between the arches taper slightly and they are four inches narrower at the top. The rounded bulge at the base is a cutwater. It guides flood water around the pier, and all the piers between the main arches have a cutwater at each end.
I used Pentax zoom lenses for the photos in this post; earlier versions of the 10-17mm fisheye and the 16-50mm lens, but the same model of 60-250mm lens as in the link.
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