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  • Cathryn Costello

Restoration complete – on time, on budget!

We are delighted to announce the completion of the Falling Sands Viaduct (FSV) restoration works – delivered on time and within budget.

The viaduct is located on the outskirts of Kidderminster, and in 2016 an assessment showed the need for significant repairs to put right the damage caused by water penetration. £1.25 million was raised by the Charitable Trust from the generous donations of SVR supporters, and a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which provided 68% of the funding.

Work was split into two phases, and in December 2019 work started to improve the viaduct’s waterproofing by replacing the Victorian drainage system; the track was lifted, ballast removed and new concrete poured in. Things didn’t quite go to plan, when two gas pipelines were discovered under the ballast, one of which was live. However, the team carefully hand excavated the pipe and secured it before the new waterproofing was put in.

Phase 2, to repair the brickwork, started in June 2020 but swiftly came to a halt when bats were seen flying out from beneath one the arches. Work restarted in July after a license was obtained from Natural England. You may have seen the pictures of engineers dangling from ropes off the side of the viaduct, scraping out and replacing the mortar around the bricks.

In mid-December 2020 the final piece of corbelling was slotted into place along the face of the viaduct and the Railway’s contractors left site, marking the end of the civils work on this huge infrastructure restoration.

The project has come up against many challenges including Covid-19, bats and even bees, so it’s a huge accomplishment for the repairs to be finished just weeks later than was originally planned.

The success of the project reflects how well the three Severn Valley Railway companies have come together to deliver this huge restoration. A steering group made up of members from Holdings, the Charitable Trust and the SVR Company Limited met each month to keep this project on track, often in very challenging circumstances. This approach has proved so effective that this way of working is being rolled out for all large capital projects.

A special thank you is owed to SVR volunteer Nick Yarwood, who spent hundreds of hours on site overseeing the restoration. Nick volunteers his time on infrastructure projects and helped to drive the FSV project forward, ensuring that both phases of the repair work were delivered on time and within budget.

The Falling Sands Viaduct education element of the project continues, as the team looks at new ways to engage with our visitors about the history of the SVR and the original construction of Falling Sands Viaduct, including the development of the exhibition spaces at The Engine House and within the Stove R, FSV’s unique mobile exhibition.

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