Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway Viaduct – Manchester, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member dtrebilc
N 53° 28.489 W 002° 15.392
30U E 549344 N 5925349
Quick Description: This large brick arch viaduct is one of 4 railway viaducts near to the Bridgewater canal in the Castlefield area of Manchester.
Location: North West England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/11/2013 8:51:07 AM
Waymark Code: WMH2FD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 2

Long Description:
The Castlefield area of the City of Manchester.
This area is so named because of the remains of a Roman fort in the area.

Manchester was one of the world’s first industrial cities and indeed claims to have started the industrial revolution with the building of the Bridgewater Canal. This canal was the first canal in Britain that did not make use of any existing waterways. It was built by the Duke of Bridgewater to connect his coal mines at Worsley with Manchester and terminated at Castlefield near to the River Medlock. The canal boats were able to carry around ten times more coal than was previously possible by cart. In fact, the canal was so effective that the price of coal in Manchester fell by over half within a year of its opening. This meant that the use of steam power in factories became economically viable.

The Bridgewater canal reached Manchester in 1761 at the Castlefield Basin. It was later extended to provide a link to Liverpool on the west coast. Many factories were built around Castlefield and so the canal started to carry many other goods as well as coal.

In 1799 The Rochdale Canal was joined onto the Bridgewater Canal at Castlefield and connected Manchester to Rochdale. By 1804 the Rochdale Canal was extended to Sowerby Bridge and became the first canal that crossed the Pennine Hills. From Sowerby Bridge it was possible to reach Hull on the East coast by use of a number of other linked canals and rivers.

The next stage of Manchester’s development was the arrival of railways in 1830 and there are four separate railway viaducts that cross the Bridgewater Canal and wharves in Castlefield.

During the 20th Century canals and railways declined in use and Castlefield became largely derelict. However in 1982 the area became the first Urban Heritage Park and large parts of the area have now been restored. Apartments, pubs and restaurants have been built on the site and it is now a popular and interesting area to visit and explore.

The railway viaduct At this spot is one of the four railway viaducts that cross the area. It is the 1849 red brick viaduct of the Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway which also has a cast iron arch bridge over a side arm of the Bridgewater Canal.

As the name suggests it was originally built to connect the town of Altrincham with Manchester and was Manchester’s first suburban railway line. The railway line is carried on this high level throughout Manchester and passes through Deansgate, Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations.

Sometime after this line was built a branch line was constructed to Liverpool and these days this is the only route used on this viaduct. The Altrincham line has now been converted to a light rail transit system that descends into the centre of Manchester and then runs along tracks in the road. The trams for this route now use the higher viaduct that stands next to this one.

The trains that use this viaduct are operated by First TransPennine Express.

The part of the viaduct with the cast iron arch was designed by William Baker and spans 31.9m. It has six cast iron ribs each made in five pieces and bolted together. The ribs are braced with cruciform cast iron sections. The twin railway tracks were carried on cast iron deck plates. The resident engineer was Henry Hemberow, and the sections were cast by Garforths of Dukinfield.

See this Wikipedia page for a fuller description of both Castlefield and all the bridges in the area.

What type of traffic does this bridge support?: railroad

What kind of gap does this bridge cross?:
At various point it crosses both the Bridgewater Canal and the Rochdale Canal, however its main purpose as a viaduct is to carry the railway line at a high level through Manchester.

Date constructed: 1849

Is the bridge still in service for its original purpose?: Yes

Name of road or trail the bridge services: Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway

Manchester, United Kingdom

Length of bridge: Not listed

Height of bridge: Not listed

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