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Jamestown Viaduct

Jamestown Viaduct

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 15, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Network Rail) Over Hope Street (B981)
Inverkeithing: Fife, Scotland: United Kingdom
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Double-Intersection Warren Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Stone Semicircular Deck Arch,
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1890 By Builder/Contractor: Sir William Arrol and Company of Glasgow, Scotland and Engineer/Design: John Fowler and Benjamin Baker

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
98 Feet (30 Meters)
Structure Length
678 Feet (206.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
4 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This overpass bridge was built as part of the project to build the nearby Forth Rail Bridge. The builder for this bridge is listed as Sir William Arrol and Company of Glasgow, Scotland, but technically William Arroll had associated himself with Joseph Phillips, Sir Thomas Selby Tancred, and Travers Hartley Falkiner for building the Forth Rail Bridge, and formed a company called Tancred, Arrol and Company for the construction of the bridge. That same joint venture built this viaduct as well. Total length given is an estimate.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Category B


Historic Environment Scotland Number: LB49652

Canmore ID: 110885

Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker, 1883-1890; Louis Nelville, engineer for Tancred, Arrol and Co and Joseph Philips, contractors. Mild steel and masonry railway viaduct. Masonry abutments of square snecked rubble with band course above eliptical arches (23 metre span) at either end; 4 spans of mild steel box girders formed with raking vertical struts and light lattice steel parapet above (each steel span 30 metres long) resting on 4 masonry piers of squared and snecked bullfaced rubble set at 25 degree angles to the centre line; whole of viaduct on curve with gradient of 1 in 70.

Statement of Special Interest
A-group with 'Forth Bridge' and 'Hope Street, Forth Bridge Approach Railway, Truss Bridge' (see separate listings).

This viaduct was erected by the Forth Bridge Railway Company as a component of the North Approach Railway, built in association with the Forth Bridge (see separate listing). The North Approach Railway is just over 3 kilometres in length commencing from the abutment at the north end of the Forth Bridge and terminating at Inverkeithing at the former junction with the North British Railway. Like the Forth Bridge itself, this viaduct demonstrates an early large-scale use of open-hearth steel.

Upon completion the Forth Bridge was the world's longest railway bridge built on the cantilever principle. It took a five thousand strong workforce seven years to build using more than sixty thousand tonnes of Siemiens-Martin open-hearth steel. It is Scotland's most instantly recognisable industrial landmark and has become a symbol of national identity.

A bridge crossing the Firth of Forth was first proposed in 1818 by Edinburgh civil engineer, James Anderson. Some engineers believed a tunnel would be a better solution and it was not until 1873 that the Forth Bridge Company was founded. The first contract was given to Thomas Bouch who designed a bridge modelled on his design for the Tay Bridge. However, after the Tay Bridge disaster of 28th December 1879, when high winds blew down the high central girders, the company felt it would be wiser to employ a completely new design. John Fowler (knighted 1885) and his colleague Benjamin Baker (knighted 1890) received the new commission. Fowler's background in railway engineering was distinguished having previously designed the first railway bridge across the Thames in 1860, St Enoch's station in Glasgow, and he was a principal engineer of the London Underground system. Fowler and Baker's innovative cantilever design, which allowed spans nearly four times larger than any railway bridge previously built, was authorised by a new Act of Parliament in 1883. The bridge was completed seven years later, on 4th March 1890. It has been in continuous use since then and around 200 trains currently cross the bridge daily.

Listed at resurvey, 2003/4; list description updated, 2013.


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