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Ouse Valley Viaduct

Probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain

West Sussex
Red Wheel Site:
Transport Mode(s):

Borde Hill Lane, Balcombe, Sussex, RH16 2HP

RH16 2HP
Visitor Centre:

About Ouse Valley Viaduct

There were competing routes for a railway from London to Brighton, including one which was to be in a tunnel all the way. The London & Brighton Railway chose that of Sir John Rennie and engaged John Rastrick to be engineer.

He was a man of considerable experience in railway engineering, having with his partner built Trevithick's 'Catch Me Who Can', only the third steam locomotive to be built in the world. He had also built a cast iron bridge over the river Wye at Chepstow in 1816, had been engineer to the Stratford & Morton Tramway, had built three locomotives for export to America, and was one of the three judges at the 1829 Rainhill trials.

The Ouse viaduct is 450 m (492 yds) long, 29 m (96 ft) high and comprised thirty seven brick arches with pierced piers. Its elegance was enhanced by the railway company's architect, David Mocatta, who built a stone cornice with balustrade along the top and erected four classical pavilions, two at each end. The eleven million bricks and other materials were carried from Holland to the site by barge on the river Ouse. Construction was completed in 1842.

The viaduct was restored in 1996 and still carries c. 110 trains each day. It is Listed Grade II*

By road: Visible from the road which runs to the east of the viaduct between Haywards Heath and Balcombe

By rail: Balcombe Station is approx 5 km away

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