Jamestown Steel Supports Historic Flying Arches

In Chorley, Lancashire, Jamestown supplied plate girders which enabled the restoration of a famous piece of railway history.

The Chorley Flying Arches

Built in 1841, the sixteen flying arches braced retaining walls on either side of the rail line between Manchester and Preston. They are believed to be the last surviving examples of their kind in the United Kingdom. However, electrification of the line meant that overhead clearance had to be increased. Plans were therefore made for the track to be lowered, and at the same time it was decided that the brick and stone arches would be reinforced by underlying curved steel beams, which would need to be exactly matched to the varying width and curvature of the masonry.

Sixteen Individual Beams

Using S355JW2 grade steel, Jamestown manufactured curving 35-millimetre-thick weathering steel flanges to match each arch. As sections are not available in this grade of steel they had to be fabricated from plate. They were delivered individually to a tight schedule, ready to be bolted into position against the retaining walls. The arch masonry, which had been removed, was later reconstructed over the beams.

An Award-Winning Outcome

The precision required to match each girder to the existing brickwork was considerable. However, Keith Sanderson, the contractor’s site manager, reported that “All flying arches fitted on site with no issues”. In recognition of the success of the project, the engineers, Amey, received the Heritage award at the annual Network Rail Partnership Awards.

Project Team

For Jamestown:
Fiacre Creegan (Director), Niall Fortune (Process Manager), Aidan Clear (Production Manager)
For J. Murphy and Sons Ltd (Contractor):
Chris Wright (Project Manager,) Enda Murphys (Design Engineer)
For Amey (Structural Engineer):
Chris Bevington (Senior Civil Engineer), Neil Hudson (Design Engineer)