Ouse Valley Viaduct

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Coordinates: 51°02′05″N 0°06′52″W / 51.03472°N 0.11444°W / 51.03472; -0.11444

View through the supporting brick piers
Travelling south along the viaduct

Built in 1841, the Ouse Valley Viaduct (also called Balcombe Viaduct) over the River Ouse on the London-Brighton Railway Line in England north of Haywards Heath and south of Balcombe is 1,475 feet (450 m) long.


The viaduct is 96 feet (29 m) high and is carried on 37 semi-circular arches, each of 30 feet (9.1 m), surmounted by balustrades. Each pier contains a Jack arch with a semi-circular soffit to reduce the number of bricks required.[1] At each end of the abutment is an ornamental square open tower, the brickwork of which is faced with stone from Heddon Quarries near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.[2] The viaduct was designed by engineer for the line John Urpeth Rastrick in association with the architect of the London to Brighton railway, David Mocatta. It has been described as “probably the most elegant viaduct in Britain.”[3]


The viaduct was opened in July 1841. The 11 million bricks needed for its construction were shipped up the Ouse River (via Newhaven and Lewes) from the Netherlands. It cost £38,500 to build[4] (equivalent to about £3½ million in 2014[5]).

The structure is a Grade II* listed building [6] and was restored in 1996 with grants from the Railway Heritage Trust and English Heritage. Matching stone was imported from France, to ensure a close match with the existing balustrades and pavilions.[7]

The viaduct is still used, with around 110 trains per day passing over it on the Brighton Main Line.


  1. ^ Turner, John Howard (1977). The London Brighton and South Coast Railway 1 Origins and formation. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-0275-X.  p.124.
  2. ^ Turner, p.124.
  3. ^ Our Transport Heritage, http://www.transportheritage.com/find-heritage-locations.html?sobi2Task=sobi2Details&sobi2Id=84
  4. ^ Body, Geoffrey (1989). Railway of the Southern Region. Patrick Stephens. ISBN 1-85260-297-X.  p.141.
  5. ^ Inflation calculator
  6. ^ "Name: OUSE VALLEY RAILWAY VIADUCT THE OUSE VALLEY RAILWAY VIADUCT List entry Number: 1366101". Historic England. Retrieved 16 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Trusting in Trusts: The Railway Heritage Trust: conservation and change, http://www.ihbc.org.uk/context_archive/58/railway/br.html
View of the viaduct, looking towards the South-East