Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Welland Viaduct

click photos to enlarge
The Welland Viaduct (also known as the Harringworth Viaduct and the Seaton Viaduct) is a railway viaduct that crosses the valley of the River Welland. In so doing its brick arches straddle the border of the counties of Northamptonshire and Rutland. It was built between 1876 and 1878, is three-quarters of a mile long, has 82 arches each of which is 40 feet wide (with an average height of 57 feet) and required 20 million bricks, 20,000 cubic yards of concrete and 19,000 cubic yards of stone for its construction.

As was often the case on large engineering projects in the Victorian period, workmen ("navvies") came to the site with their families to secure employment. Here they were housed in two temporary settlements. A curate built a mission hut in one of the camps to serve the religious needs of the 400 migrants! The bricks were made nearby with local clay, those who dug it earning £2 a week. Bricklayers were paid £2 10s weekly, foremen £3.00, labourers £1 5s, and mechanics £1 16s. All could earn overtime pay for working into the night. Part of the labour force comprised 120 horses used for pulling waggons.

The viaduct is the longest such structure in Britain and its unique size and form has resulted in it being designated a Grade II listed structure. For a number of years after the 1960s trains used the viaduct only infrequently. However, a regular service now runs across it (as you can see from my second photograph). I took my images during a bicycle ride that included visits to a number of churches, villages and this monument to the vision of our Victorian forbears. Incidentally, I was really pleased to be able to incorporate the very co-operative horse in my first image: it gave a welcome touch of scale to a subject that is very difficult to photograph.

photographs & text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/1000
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation: -0.66 EV
Image Stabilisation: On

Photo 2
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 110mm (220mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On