The Ivybridge Viaduct is one of five viaducts (Glaze, Bittaford, Ivybridge, Blatchford and Slade) situated between Totnes and Plymouth, all of which were originally designed by the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859). The Ivybridge Viaduct was the highest of the five at just over 104 feet with eleven bays covering a distance of 252 yards. The piers were originally built from local surface granite with a timber superstructure which was strengthened with wrought iron girders 20 years after construction.
Constructing the Inglis Viaduct
The design for the new viaduct was to use granite for the arches but owing to the Plymouth mason’s being on strike, the builders had to have 4 million bricks made. These can clearly be seen at the Bittaford Viaduct.
Photographed on 21st August 1909, this shows the new Ivybridge Viaduct with the Cornish Riviera Express in its early days.
Great Western Echo Autumn 2005.
Due to the conversion of the line from broad (7ft ¼ins) to standard gauge (4ft 8½ins), the original Brunel viaduct was replaced.
In 1893 Sir James Inglis, the General Manager and Consulting Engineer of the Great Western Railway, designed a second viaduct for the South Devon Railway built of rock-faced granite and blue engineering bricks which allowed the two separate double-track sections to be joined up.
When the line between Rattery and Hemerdon was doubled, the Great Western Railway Company and its contractors needed to build 100,000 cubic yards of masonry and required nearly 4,000,000 bricks for the five viaducts, twenty-four bridges, one short tunnel and associated earthworks for the whole ten mile length.
Messrs S Pearson and Sons of Victoria St, Westminster were contracted by Great Western Railway to undertake the practical reconstruction and doubling of the main line between Rattery and Hemerdon. At this time the stonecutters in the Plymouth district were on strike and so 19 Dublin stonecutters came to Ivybridge in 1891 to construct the new railway viaduct.
The new Ivybridge viaduct was brought into use in 1894. It was on a different alignment which forced the construction of a new westbound (down) platform further back from the old line. The eastbound (up) platform was widened and this left the building set back at an odd angle to the track. Six of the surviving granite piers of the earlier Brunel viaduct can still be seen.
The present Inglis Viaduct and the remaining six adjacent piers of the original Brunel construction were Grade II listed in 1984.