SCRCA Primary Reference: Review of F.S. Williams (1876) for Dandrymire Viaduct

Submitted by mark.harvey / Tue, 30/08/2022 - 17:15
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Source: "The Midland railway: its rise and progress. A narrative of modern enterprise" by Frederick Smeeton Williams, published by Strahan & Co London (1876). The following selected extracts are from pages 508-511:

On leaving the tunnel, the line emerges into Garsdale.

... Soon we see, upon our right, a roadside inn, called "The Moorcock," notable in the district as standing at the junction of three roads. This inn is at the head of three valleys: the Wensleydale, winding eastward down to Hawes, along which the Midland has a branch line in course of construction; the Garsdale Valley, going westerly towards Sedbergh; and the Mallerstang, leading northwards towards Kirkby Stephen. These valleys and their roads all meet; and travellers innumerable have been wont to dismount their mountain ponies at "The Moorcock" to refresh themselves with mountain dew, perhaps the more willingly from the thought that it has been many a mile since they had such an opportunity before, and that it will be many another before they will have one again.

As an indication of the inaccessibility of this spot, we may mention that every tip waggon here used by the contractor had to be brought by road up from Sedbergh, and that the carriage of them cost a guinea each. At this point 100 were required.

... An embankment was here required to carry the line, and tipping went on for two years. But the peat yielded to the weight placed upon it, and rose on each side in a bank, in some places fifteen feet high. After more than 250,000 cubic yards had been tipped, it was decided that a viaduct of twelve arches over the deepest part of the works must be made. The work thus erected is some fifty feet high, and for nearly the whole length it had to be sunk an additional fifteen feet through the peat before a firm foundation could be obtained.

These difficulties are doubtless to be accounted for by the geological formation of the country. The strata belong to what is called the carboniferous period. "But they are overrun," remarks Mr. Story, the resident engineer[1], in some notes with which he has favoured us, "by the glacial drift, which at times exceeds a depth of eighty feet, and is composed of a stiff blue clay, filled with boulders of every size up to fifty tons weight. These boulders are the fragments of the stratified rocks of the district, some grit and some limestone; and an examination of them shows that they have been transported in some way or other for many miles from the place where they were originally deposited. The surface of them is marked in a very peculiar way with deep indentations, which show they must have met with some rough treatment on their journey, no doubt caused by their passage over the rocks of the district, the surfaces of which are marked in a similar manner."

In carrying on these works a curious circumstance occurred. A gullet (a sort of preliminary cutting, with steep sides, and big enough for a few tip waggons to be pushed in) had been made, and the rails laid in it. But in the night the rain fell; the walls of the gullet slipped in; the road was buried several yards deep in slurry and mud; and there it was left. Two years passed away. Another and deeper gullet was made onward from the cutting; and to their surprise, the men, as they were digging out the boulder clay, found the remains of a former tram-road. "A splendid discovery," said one concerned in the work, "for a geological fellow. He could prove lots from this. 'Here is a railway in the glacial drift, - in the glacial period; rails, sleepers, and all. Then the world must have been inhabited then; and they had railways then; and very likely a Settle and Carlisle railway into the bargain.' 'There is nothing new under the sun.

"A short distance farther on," says Mr. Story, "is Lunds Viaduct, of five arches, and in the bottom is the quarry from which a great number of the viaducts and bridges were built."


[1] John S. Storey was the Resident engineer for Contract No. 2, which covered the 17 miles from Dent Head Viaduct (exclusive) to Smardale Viaduct (inclusive).