SEmG

Railway Structures
Shepton Mallet Viaducts

The Somerset & Dorset Railway was leased jointly from 1875 by the London & South Western and Midland Railways. It continued to be managed as a separate organisation until 1930, when the London, Midland & Scottish Railway took responsibility for operations and locomotives, and the Southern for signalling and civil engineering.

The railway's 1874 extension to Bath included three viaducts at Shepton Mallet. All three were built for a single track, but were widened on the west side when the line was doubled between Shepton Mallet and Binegar in 1892.

Charlton viaduct Charlton viaduct, photographed on 17th April 2010.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

The largest of the three is Charlton Viaduct, which was a short distance north of Shepton Mallet station. This is 317 yards long and has 27 segmental arches, with 30 feet span. Its geometry is unusual in that the viaduct is on a curve and dips to a low point in the middle. The nearest pier in the photograph is a king pier, wider than the others and with a pilaster. There are two of these. This is the eighteenth pier from the north end of the viaduct; the other is the ninth. The length of the viaduct is such that these were considered necessary to resist the thrust of the arches. On the east side of the viaduct every third pier is buttressed.

The original viaduct was built of stone, with brick arch rings. The widening is in brick, but the parapets and spandrels are stone and the outer faces of the piers are mostly of stone. It appears that this material was originally on the west face of the single track viaduct.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Charlton viaduct
 
Charlton viaduct The setting of the viaduct is extraordinary. The fourth to fifteenth arches (from the north end) pass through and form a feature of a very attractive and elaborate ornamental garden. This was originally a Victorian park and vegetable garden for the benefit of workers in the adjacent factory. It was renovated and developed in the 1960s by Showerings, the cider and Babycham company.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

 
Now known as Kilver Court Gardens, the grounds have been open to the general public since 2008.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Charlton viaduct
 
Charlton viaduct Less than a mile further north is Bath Road Viaduct. This has six segmental arches of 50 feet span and was the highest viaduct on the Somerset & Dorset, measuring 62 feet to the crown of the arch over the road.

Like Charlton Viaduct, the original structure is of stone, save for brick arch rings. It was widened in red brick.

Bath Road viaduct, photographed on 17th April 2010.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

The viaduct partly collapsed in a storm in February 1946 which may have been brought about by lack of maintenance and over-loading during the Second World War. It was repaired using concrete, the work being completed in July 1946. Arches on the newer, west side have been rebuilt with concrete rings, and the stone half of the pier by road has been reinforced with concrete.

This plaque on the viaduct records its reconstruction.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

Charlton viaduct
 
Charlton viaduct Lost in the woods to the north of Shepton Mallet is Ham Wood Viaduct. This has six segmental arches of 30 feet span and has been constructed and widened in the same way as Charlton Viaduct, so the east side is of stone with brick arch rings. The west side is in brick, with stone parapets, spandrels and facings to the piers.

Ham Wood viaduct, photographed on 17th April 2010.

photograph by Gregory Beecroft

All photographs are copyright

return to the Railway Structures menu

return to picture gallery page

This page was created 20 April 2010

SR Target

Valid CSS!    Valid HTML 4.01!