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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Edwardian railway viaduct that has been disused for over 30 years restored by National Highways

A landmark 60ft railway viaduct that has been cut off from the network since 1991 has been restored and repaired.

National Highways’ Historic Railway Estate arm has just completed a major rejuvenation of the government-owned structure, which was built by the Midland Railway in 1906.

The 21-arch Crigglestone Viaduct was meant to serve a line between Sheffield and Bradford avoiding Leeds that was never fully built, instead carrying a stretch of the route between Royston and Dewsbury over the village.

Fractures have been fixed, brickwork repointed, strengthening work carried out following vegetation damage, and graffiti and undergrowth removed. Six new bat boxes have also been installed. The viaduct has struggled with the effects of excessive vegetation growth.

Civil engineer Muhammad Musa said: “This is a hugely important project and we’re really proud of the hard work that the engineers have done to restore this piece of local history.

“Among our biggest tasks has been removing vegetation from the inside face of the south parapet. There has been excessive growth here, with roots embedded between the mortar joints. This created deep open joints in the brickwork, with remaining mortar made more fragile and breakable.

“Tree root growth also caused areas of brickwork to become displaced. Damage from excessive tree growth is common on our structures, so it’s important we carry out regular clearance to maintain these structures for future generations.”

Crigglestone Viaduct, also known as the Midland Railway viaduct at Calder Grove, is around three miles south-west of Wakefield. It carries the trackbed of the former Royston to Thornhill Junction railway line, which opened in around 1900, but ended up being mainly a spur to the goods yard at Savile Town.

The eight-mile route connected with other mainlines at Thornhill, near Dewsbury, and though mainly a freight line, was used by passenger express trains between Bradford and London between the wars. The eastern end closed in the 1960s, but the western section remained open a little longer for trains bringing materials for the construction of the M1 motorway.

Under the most easterly arch of the viaduct is the Wakefield-Barnsley railway line. Under the central section was Pepper's Yard British Oak site and the line serving the old Flockton collieries. Also in the viaduct’s shadow was the former Horbury West curve, known as Crigglestone curve, a section of railway running from Crigglestone Junction to Horbury Station Junction that opened in 1902.

Having closed to passengers in 1961, the Crigglestone curve was used by freight services until its disconnection at both ends in early 1991.

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