Dentonholme South Viaduct

Dentonholme South Viaduct

In 1877, under the watchful control of the Goods Traffic Committee, an avoiding line was opened to the west of Carlisle Station, linking Willowholme Junction with the deliciously named Bog Junction.

Northbound, it crossed the River Caldew on a plate girder bridge before diverging at Dentonholme South Junction. A lattice girder structure then carried one branch back over the river whilst the other continued to the exit of a goods yard before itself crossing the Caldew to be reunited with the avoiding line. The most northerly of these three bridges has been dismantled.

In the early hours of 1st May 1984, a freightliner became divided on its decent from Shap Summit; the rear part free-wheeling towards Carlisle. Signalman Willie Taylor, on duty in Carlisle PSB, routed the wagons – some of which contained dangerous chemicals – onto the avoiding line. They came to grief on the first bridge, derailing and causing extensive damage to the structure. Two spans were demolished; the remaining three were dismantled in 2008.

Mr Taylor succumbed to cancer a year after the accident and a memorial to him is to be erected at the city’s station.

Dentonholme South Viaduct, the middle of the three crossings, comprises four lattice girder spans on three paired masonry piers. Its deck now supports Sustrans’ Caldrew Riverside Trail.

There is an ongoing debate as to whether the line should be reopened and Network Rail is known to be considering the purchase of the trackbed.

(Rose & Trev Clough’s photo is used under this Creative Commons licence.)

August 2009