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South Esk Viaduct

South Esk Viaduct and Montrose Basin
©2017 Gazetteer for Scotland

South Esk Viaduct and Montrose Basin

A controversial railway bridge which crosses the channel at the entrance to Montrose Basin, the South Esk Viaduct links Montrose with Rossie Island to the south, connecting with Ferryden Viaduct. Built 1881-83 for the North British Railway, this fourteen-span structure comprises steel lattice-girder trusses on circular concrete-filled iron columns. It has a total length of 440m (1430 feet) and the contractor was Sir William Arrol (1839 - 1913). It was designed by William R. Galbraith (1829 - 1914), an experienced engineer with the London and South Western Railway, who was hastily brought in because of the need to replace a wrought iron viaduct here, which had only been completed in 1879. This earlier viaduct was the final work of Sir Thomas Bouch (1822-80), who had been blamed for the Tay Bridge Disaster. In early 1880, Bouch's bridge was subject to extensive safety tests under heavy loads. Parts of the structure failed and the Board of Trade refused to grant it the necessary certificate for passenger traffic. It was demolished in December 1880.

Both the South Esk and Ferryden Viaducts are single-track, the only single-track section on the East Coast Main Line, which is potentially a bottleneck to traffic. Both viaducts are also B-listed.


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