·  LMS  ·  GWR  ·  LNER  ·  Misc  ·  Stations  ·  What's New  ·  Video  ·  Guestbook  ·  About

Bordesley - Duddeston Viaduct

GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton
GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Bordesley Station Photographs (58) Bordesley Viaduct (10) Duddeston Viaduct (9)
Bordesley Junction (17) Bordesley Shed (20) GWR Publication – Named Freight Trains
GWR Appendix to STT (Bordesley Junction & Station) GWR Service Time Table (GW Shunting & LMS Trips) GWR Appendix to STT
(Whistle Codes & other infomation)

Richard Stagg, a member of the LNWR Society writes in the letter column of the Society's Journal, Volume 7, No 11, 'there is mention of the Duddeston viaduct. It says that the viaduct is a relic of the Great Western Railway's (GWR) thrust to New St being rendered superfluous by the Snow Hill connection. In my opinion this seems to me to be putting the cart before tire horse. My understanding is that the GWR's mixed gauge subsidiary the 'Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway' (B&OJR) had been caught up in the dispute between the 'Grand Junction Railway' (GJR) and the 'London and Birmingham Railway' (L&BR) over rates for traffic handed over at Curzon Street for onward movement south, with the GJR encouraging the B&OJR to connect to it at Curzon Street and to have use of the station facilities there. This would have given the GJR what it wanted which was reduced costs to London and saved the B&OJR the expense of constructing its own station. It would also have had much better opportunities for exchange traffic. What scuppered this plan was the settling of the row between the GJR and the L&BR when they amalgamated to form the London North Western Railway (LNWR) itself. The new LNWR was not going to do anything to help the GWR so told the B&OJ it could not have access to Curzon St, but did insist that it stuck to the letter of its authorizing Act which forced it to complete the Duddeston viaduct. The GWR then had to get a new Act to authorize the construction of yet another viaduct across the Rea Valley, to tunnel under the centre of Birmingham and to construct Snow Hill. Even if the LNWR had allowed the GWR to share in its new station at New St the Duddeston approach viaduct would have had to be modified for, as built, it was pointing in the wrong direction. It might be argued that it was this threat to the L&BR's traffic that was one of the principal events that led to the formation of the LNWR'.

Richard Foster provides a more thorough and detailed explanation on why the Duddeston Viaduct was built but never used in the first volume of 'Birmingham New Street - The story of a great station' published by Wild Swan ISBN 0906867 78 9 in 1990. Richard states that Huish, General Manager of the Grand Junction Railway, initially only supported the development of the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway to force the London & Birmingham Railway to merge with the Grand Junction Railway to form the London & North Western Railway. The problem for Huish was, according to Richard, once the 'agreement in principle to the amalgamation had been reached , the B&OJ became a real embarrassment to Huish and his new colleagues, and great efforts were made to eliminate it. They were too late; Huish had been too successful. The scheme, with its solid backing from the West Midlands men among others, was unstoppable. The plans were deposited with Parliament in November 1845, only a few weeks after the amalgamation agreement for the L&NWR had been signed. Not only was the L&NWR unsuccessful in attempts to get the bill thrown out, it also failed to get a key clause deleted. This clause permitted the company to lease or sell its line to the Great Western Railway. Some last-ditch attempts to damage the B&OJ were more successful. As a left-over from the days of Huish's support, the B&OJ was to have two lines in Birmingham. The main line was to terminate at Great Charles Street, with a station at Snow Hill, and there was to be a branch from Bordesley to make a junction with the GJR at its Curzon Street terminus. The point of junction was to be almost exactly at the east end of the GJR train shed, and the route involved crossing the L&BR lines on the level. Huish managed to get the B&OJ Act altered to make the main line that to Curzon Street, whilst the line to Great Charles Street became the subject of a separate Act, the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway (Birmingham Extension) Act.

Both Acts received the Royal Assent on 3rd August 1846. The main line Act prohibited the B&OJ from changing the alignment of its railway on any land belonging to the L&BR, or from taking the line across or beyond the point of junction with the L&BR. Since the B&OJ was not intended to join the L&BR, but merely to cross it to reach the GJR, this effectively made the formation of any sort of junction impossible. A further clause required the B&OJ to carry any part of its line which crossed land owned by the L&BR, on arches This again made a junction impossible. In addition, the L&BR's own Birmingham Extension Act, passed in the same session of Parliament, authorised a new line across the alignment of the B&OJ south of the existing L&BR tracks, but made no provisions for the B&OJ to cross or join it. By altering its proposals to satisfy the objections, the B&OJ achieved its main objective of getting its line authorised. But now it had to pay the price. By accepting the Curzon Street route as its main line, it had no alternative but to build it. It was clear, however, that it could not use it, unless the (newly formed) L&NWR chose to make it possible by agreeing some alternative arrangements (something that the L&NWR did not want to do). On the other hand, the L&NWR would vigorously oppose any abandonment proposals and, since Parliament did not much favour abandonments, any proposal was unlikely to succeed. Huish had scored on two points. He had effectively kept the B&OJ away from New Street and the GJR line, and had weakened the B&OJ by increasing its construction costs.

The B&OJ, recognising that it had been outmaneuvered, shouldered its burden and in due course built its viaduct, and built it well. Much of the half mile or so of viaduct (which has never carried a through train) still strides across Bordesley, a monument to the stupidity of short-term power struggles. Nor had Huish finished with the interloper. Having failed to stop the B&OJ, he now tried to retrieve the situation by gaining control of it. He could not do this directly, because of the clause in the Act which specified lease or sale to the GWR. He therefore adopted the ploy of purchasing a majority shareholding, with the aim of voting a majority of L&NWR directors on to the board, which in due course would allow the clause to be altered. In the first part he was successful, achieving control of 80 per cent of the shares. In the rest he was defeated by more political manoeuvreing and behind-the-scenes activities, and for this his new-found partners, the L&BR, were largely to blame' but that's another story relating to the strategically important route to Bristol.

View of Duddeston Viaduct showing the main structure was still substantially intact some 130 years later
Ref: gwrbg671
PB Whitehouse
View of Duddeston Viaduct showing the main structure was still substantially intact some 130 years later
Another view of the 355 yards long Viaduct originally built to connect the B&OJR line Curzon Street station
Ref: gwrbg1329
Millbrook House Ltd
Another view of the 355 yards long Viaduct originally built to connect the B&OJR line Curzon Street station
GWR drawing showing the longitudinal and transverse section of Duddeston Viaduct at Alcock Street
Ref: gwrbg2719
Great Western Railway
GWR drawing showing the longitudinal and transverse section of Duddeston Viaduct at Alcock Street
Close up showing an 18" thick masonry slab running between the spandrel walls at Alcock Street bridge
Ref: gwrbg2718
Great Western Railway
Close up showing an 18" thick masonry slab running between the spandrel walls at Alcock Street bridge
A close up view of the small 'manhole' which was located between two jack arches along the Duddeston viaduct
Ref: gwrbg2717
G Laucht
A close up view of the small 'manhole' which was located between two jack arches along the Duddeston viaduct

A schematic diagram created to show the original extent of the Duddeston Viaduct circa 1852
Ref: gwrbg2720
Great Western Railway
A schematic diagram created to show the original extent of the Duddeston Viaduct circa 1852
A copy of the 1888 Ordnance Survey map covering the Duddeston Viaduct between Bordesley and Curzon Street
Ref: gwrbg2700
Ordnance Survey
A copy of the 1888 Ordnance Survey map covering the Duddeston Viaduct between Bordesley and Curzon Street
A copy of the 1903 Ordnance Survey map covering the Duddeston Viaduct between Bordesley and Curzon Street
Ref: gwrbg2699
Ordnance Survey
A copy of the 1903 Ordnance Survey map covering the Duddeston Viaduct between Bordesley and Curzon Street

Much of the information on this and other webpages of Warwickshire Railways is derived from articles or books listed in our 'bibliography'.