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Smeaton's Arches - Newark

Built 1770s: widened 1920s 

A causeway to carry the Great North Road across the floodplain of the River Trent. The work of John Smeaton, the 'father of civil engineering'

Red Wheel Site:
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Great North Road,

Newark on Trent

NG24 1BL
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About Smeaton's Arches - Newark

The seventy-four Newark Flood Arches carry the A616, once the Great North Road, over the River Trent valley from Newark north west to South Muskham, in an area prone to regular flooding.
Smeaton's Newark Flood Arches are in fact a very long bridge: more than 1.6km long. The brick structure is Grade II listed. Its arches are mostly 3.7m wide, and 1.8m high from foundation level to springer. The passageways through the arches are 10.1m long, across the width of the road. The 74 arches are bunched in eight groups, and the whole was built between 1768 and 1770 at a cost of £12,000.
The road over the arches is bounded by parapet walls with stone copings. There are cutwaters on the piers between arches.
Smeaton designed the bridge so that the crown of the road surface would be approximately 300mm above the level of an extreme flood in this area — one of which he observed from a boat in February 1766.
The west side of Newark Flood Arches was widened by 4m in 1929.
original and widened
Nottingham County Council's excellent interpretation board appears at the nearby entrance to Smeaton's Lakes. A higher resolution pdf version may be downloaded here.

NCC Interpretation board

Note: The Red Wheel plaque was kindly erected by Newark & Sherwood District Council on 18th December 2020 and will hopefully be formally unveiled at a later date due to Covid pandemic.
Text source: Engineering Timelines - with thanks.
Photo credits: 
Philip Halling / Viaduct approaching Muskham Bridge

Alan Murray-Rust (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Oliver Scott, Newark & Sherwood District Council
Jerry Swift & Peter Stone (National Transport Trust)

The Red Wheel plaque is fixed to a red brick gatepost to the former cattle market entrance - opposite the road leading to Waitrose. 

The Arches start immediately behind the pillar and can be seen when standing in the  car park looking back at the wall.


smeatons arches in cattle market

"Reports of the late John Smeaton, F.R.S. made on various occasions, in the course of his employment as a civil engineer" by John Smeaton, Vol. I p.217-221, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London, 1812

National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR