Located 14 miles east of Liverpool the Sankey Viaduct cost £45,000 to build and is the only Grade I listed structure in St.Helens Borough.
The designated route of the railway involved crossing a valley through which flowed the Sankey Brook and Sankey Navigation (built by Henry Berry, 1757, to link the St.Helens coalfield to the River Mersey).
Engineers had to decide how to carry the railway over the valley, without disrupting traffic on the canal and avoiding steep gradients. The solution was to form an embankment over the western half of the valley, starting near Collins Green, extending 900 yards east and rising to over 50 feet. The Viaduct was then constructed over the Canal and the Stream, a loop in the former being eliminated and the curve of the waterway being altered to a constant radius.
100,000 tons of marls and moss, compacted with brushwood, were used in the construction of the embankment, handled and transported with the simplest of mechanical aides. Work on the Viaduct began in 1828. Some 200 piles were driven up to 30 feet into the ground to provide solid foundations for ten piers and the nine arches, each with a span of 50 feet, built of brick, faced with stone, carry two tracks 70 feet above the valley floor.
The last seven sailing barges passed through the Newton Common Lock to St.Helens in 1919. The Canal was formerly abandoned north of this point in 1931. Recently, the Sankey Canal Restoration Society has undertaken some excavations at the site, which may be viewed from the footpath.
Have you seen? Check out the images of this engineering first in the Virtual Museum.