Some Early Lines
River Leven estuary, Ulverston, Cumbria
Sir James William Brunlees
date 1st April 1856 – 14th June 1857
era Victorian | category Railway Viaduct | reference SD321784
ICE reference number HEW 964
The first use of jetted piles in the British Isles was for the construction of two major railway viaducts across river estuaries joining Morecambe Bay, for the Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway. One of these is Leven Viaduct over the River Leven estuary, east of Ulverstone.
Leven Viaduct’s 48 spans are 9.1m centre to centre. The supporting 254mm diameter columns are grouped, some raking, some vertical. All are founded on tubular cast iron piles with large discs at their bases, jetted into position through the sand and silt sea bed and filled with concrete.
The jetting method of sinking piles is used when the ground is sandy as a pile hammer would be impractical. Air or water (or both) is used under pressure to help the driving process.
Initially, there was a single railway track and each column group consisted of three vertical and one raking column. The doubling of the track in 1863 meant the widening of the viaduct. This brought the addition of another vertical and another raking column to each group.