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Structures: Viaduct given national landmark status

Britain’s tallest railway viaduct, Ballochmyle, has been designated a “national historical civil engineering landmark”.

Old timer

The viaduct opened in 1849

The Scottish structure is made up of seven striking arches and was designed by Ayr born civil engineer John Miller. Miller - often described as Scotland’s Brunel - was an experienced designer of many railway structures, including Scotland’s first inter-city railway, the Edinburgh-Glasgow line.

The Ballochmyle viaduct was completed in 1849 and at the time of its construction. It was the largest masonry arch structure in the world.

It carried the Cumnock Branch of the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock & Ayr Railway and crosses the River Ayr between Mauchline and Catrine.

The bridge also starred in the 1996 Hollywood film Mission Impossible. The scene on the top of the train was filmed while it crossed over the viaduct with the town of Catrine visible in the background.

ICE President Geoff French and provost Jim Todd of East Ayrshire Council unveiled a special plaque to designate the structure.

French commented: “John Miller possessed the same foresight and professionalism that our predecessors applied to create the lasting legacies of historic infrastructure in times past. It is vital that we encourage the next generation of civil engineers and instil in them the same ambition and skill to continue Scotland’s rich engineering heritage.”

Network Rail head of engineering Duncan Sooman recently carried out strengthening work to the structure to allow for continued use by freight trains. He added: “Network Rail is particularly pleased to have strengthened this magnificent structure to carry the heaviest coal trains without any visual effect on its appearance. This is a further example of our commitment to retaining ­heritage structures fit for a modern railway.”

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