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Bilston Viaduct

Railway Viaduct (19th Century)

Site Name Bilston Viaduct

Classification Railway Viaduct (19th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Bilston Glen Viaduct; Bilston Burn; Bilston Wood; Polton

Canmore ID 174570

Site Number NT26SE 83

NGR NT 28073 64861

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Midlothian
  • Parish Lasswade
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District Midlothian
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT26SE 83 28073 64861

Not to be confused with Glencorse Viaduct (NT 24908 62198), for which see NT26SW 45.

Viaduct [NAT]

OS 1:10,000 map, 1979.

Appears on 1st edition OS map, 1894.

From HS List Description, link 13035.

(Undated) information in NMRS.

Dating from the late 19th century, this railway viaduct lies on the former Edinburgh, Loanhead and Roslin Railway which was opened in 1874. It may have replaced an original wooden bridge. The viaduct is a box lattice girder bridge between bull-faced sandstone abutments. Lattice work parapets. With each end now blocked off, it is no longer in use. A RCAHMS photographic survey was undertaken in order to capture some images of the viaduct enshrouded in scaffolding when it was being renovated during the late 1990's.

Observations from visit, 1/2/1999: Much of the steelwork is marked with the initials 'GI&SCoLtd', the Glasgow Iron and Steel Company Limited. However, portions of the latticed steel parapet and some flanges of the lower girders are also marked 'Jarrow' (presumably from Northumberland) and Hallside (in Lanarkshire). All the steelwork of the box latticed girder is riveted, and rests on two large cast-iron roller bearings at the base of each abutment.

At the time of survey (1999), the bridge was being restored by Kvaerner with assistance from Historic Scotland, Midlothian Council, and a variety of grant-giving bodies. The renovation work involved stripping away the deck and treating all steelwork with non-corrosive protective paint. The deck surface was being replaced with reinforced concrete, but the structure beneath was being retained intact.

Visited by RCAHMS (MKO), January 1999.

This viaduct formerly carried the Glencorse branch (from Millerhill) of the North British Rly over the valley of the Bilston Burn to the W of Polton village. It replaced a predecessor structure.

The location assigned to this record defines the approximate midpoint of the structure. The available map evidence extends from NT c. 28076 64920 to NT c. 28082 64776.

The line closed to regular passenger traffic on 1 May 1933.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 15 may 2006.

G Daniels and L Dench 1980.


Modification (1892)

Reduction of intermediate supports from five to two. Old bridge (1873) was used as falsework to erect three girder spans with central span 330 feet in length with two 60 feet side spans.

Project (2007)

This project was undertaken to input site information listed in 'Civil engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' by R Paxton and J Shipway, 2007.

Publication Account (2007)

Bilston Glen Viaduct, Loanhead is a single track, 15 ft wide viaduct crossing Bilston Burn at a height of 140 ft was erected on the Edinburgh, Loanhead & Roslin branch line worked by the North British Railway. The first viaduct at the site, with six wrought-iron lattice truss spans, was erected in 1872–73 under the direction of Bouch, its designer. It was decided, perhaps from coal working considerations, to reduce the number of intermediate supports from five to two. This was achieved in 1892 using the old bridge as falsework to erect three girder spans, the centre one of which is a massive 330 ft in length and 42 ft deep, with side spans of 60 ft. Both elevations are shown on the drawing. The Company engineers were James Carswell and James Bell. The bridge was made and erected by P. & W. MacLellan, Glasgow.

The viaduct was tastefully refurbished in 1999 for pedestrian use at a cost of about £1.5M by the Edinburgh Green Belt Trust and a set of its original sliding and rocker bearings, which cost £147 000 to replace, are now interpreted at the bridge, and on Heriot-Watt University campus as part of the ICE Museum.

R Paxton and S Shipway 2007

Reproduced from 'Civil Engineering heritage: Scotland - Lowlands and Borders' with kind permission of Thomas Telford Publishers.


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