Sunday, 5 January 2014

Glenfinnan Viaduct the West Highland Line¸ Scotland

The beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct built between July 1897 and Oct 1898 on the West Highland Line in Glenfinnan, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. The project cost was around £18,904. It is situated at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, and has been used as location in several films and television series. This project is considered great engineering work of largest concrete without reinforcing built by Sir Robert McAlpine. Sir Robert McAlpine took on a massive civil engineering task with the building of the Mallaig Extension of the West Highland Line from Fort William west to Mallaig, though that was not the originally intended destination. The 21-Arch single track viaduct forms part of the Mallaig extension of the West Highland Railway which was constructed in between 1897 till 1901, which is also built entirely of concrete.
It is a popular tourist event in the area, and the viaduct is one of the major attractions of the line, the lovely viaduct contains of 21 arches, each spanning 15m and has a maximum height of 30m proffering remarkable views down Lochaber’s Loch Shiel. These kinds of projects always offers great scarifications of labour work, and during construction a cart-horse and driver were killed when they fell into one of the piers while dumping their load, and were buried in the concrete. In the latest research has shown that the sad incident happened at Loch Nan Uamh Viaduct, further down the line, near Arisaig, and the driver survived. Memorial plaques are at the latter viaduct and at Glenfinnan Station Museum.
The West Highland railway line connects Fort William and Mallaig, and was a vital vein for the local fishing industry and the highlands economy in general, which suffered extremely after the Highland Clearances of the 1800s. The line is used by passenger trains operated by ScotRail between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig, usually diesel multiple units. The viaduct project was not often appreciated, and several authorities criticized when this viaduct was first proposed. According to them; it would be prove a monstrosity, enough in ugliness to take away all the charm and beauty of natural scenes. Some would endorse this opinion now and wholeheartedly agreed.