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Rare Victorian Railway Arches Saved

Grade II listed Chorley Flying Railway Arches saved from demolition in a collaboration between English Heritage and Network Rail.

Workmen watch as large stone and steel arch is lowered into position bracing the retaining walls of the cutting
Grade II listed Chorley Flying Railway Arches being lifted back into place

To save the arches from demolition English Heritage and Network Rail agreed the stone arches would be carefully recorded in situ, then removed to secure storage and temporarily replaced with steel versions. Now works are nearing completion the original arches have been reinstated in a slightly higher position to allow the installation of electrification equipment through the tunnel.

Cathy Tuck, English Heritage Heritage at Risk Project Officer for the North West, said: "These arches are an important example of Victorian innovation. They were needed to strengthen the retaining walls of the cutting as it was feared that the clay behind might force the walls inwards causing them to collapse on the trains. It was a rarely used but very elegant solution."

John Johnson, Project Manager at Network Rail, said: "This project is part of a £1bn+ investment to provide a better railway and boost the economy across the north of England. We are upgrading a Victorian railway, and it is important that we maintain that link to its heritage. We have worked closely with English Heritage to make sure that the Chorley flying arches have been reinstated in their rightful place."

The original arches are being replaced with the addition of a permanent slender steel brace under each arch to meet modern safety regulations. This marriage between historic aesthetics and 21st century structural safety margins has allowed Network Rail to run the line to modern standards while preserving the appearance and significance of the original arches.

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