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1840: Viaduct - keying the last arch

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

On Thursday the last arch of the Ouse Viaduct on the London to Brighton Railway was keyed by Mr Maude, the resident engineer of the centre district of the railway, in the presence of the parties engaged on the work, together with a considerable number of visitors from Brighton and Lewes.

The viaduct is built for the purpose of carrying the railway over the valley through which flows the River Ouse and near the spot where the river becomes navigable. It is about two miles and half from Hayward's-heath, and 20 from Brighton

Formwork for an arch (not the Ouse)

The viaduct consists of two abutments and 37 semi-circular arches, of a 40 feet span, and varying in height from 48 to 96 feet. The entire length of the viaduct is 1475 feet, or rather more than a quarter of a mile, and the width of the railway is 28 feet. Upwards of 11,000,000 bricks, made from the soil of the neighbourhood, have been used in the structure, independently of about 400,000 feet of masonry, in the foundation and elsewhere.

The first stone was laid in the middle of May last year, so that this stupendous undertaking has been completed in about 18 months. Most satisfactory accounts continue to reach us of the progress of the works throughout the line.

Brighton Gazette

12 December 1840, Leeds Intelligencer.

Notes: The first stone was laid mid May 1839 and took just 18 months to build. An extraordinary feat even today.

Colour photo from The Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

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