Railways in the landscape

The construction of railways in the nineteenth century had a lasting impact on the landscape.

George Stephenson, ‘Father of the Railways’ was one of the engineers on the Grand Junction Railway, linking Birmingham to the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. Crossing the River Weaver meant constructing this 500-yard-long, 20-arch viaduct that took 700 men two years to build. Completed in 1836, it is still in use on the West Coast Main Line.

Other effects on the landscape included cuttings, like this one (photo 2) on the former Ashbourne line in Derbyshire. Opened in 1899, the line made Peak District attractions such as Dovedale accessible to visitors from neighbouring cities. Although the railway was closed in the 1960s it was reopened in 1971 as the Tissington Trail, a 13-mile walking and cycling route.

Other popular tourist routes remain open, such as the Exeter to Plymouth line, seen here at Dawlish (photo 3). Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it hugs the coast for several miles, making it vulnerable to sea-level rise. A storm in 2014 breached the sea wall at Dawlish, closing the line for two months.

Further information

Biddle, G. (2016). Railways in the Landscape. Pen & Sword Books View on Google Books