Heritage Locations

Anker Viaduct, Tamworth

Massive eighteen-arched stone viaduct constructed by George and Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson

Period of construction:
1800 - 1849

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Amington Road, Tamworth, B77 3PA

B77 3PA

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

When business men in the Midlands were considering building a railway from Derby to Birmingham, it was natural for them to choose George Stephenson to survey the route. This he did in 1835 and the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway Bill passed through Parliament on the 30th.March,1836, receiving the Royal Assent on the 19th.May, 1836. By September of that year, George had been appointed as the Chief Engineer of the Company. His survey revealed that, for the most part, the route was fairly straight and level, but that it would require a cutting on the approach to Derby together with a total of seventy eight bridges and two viaducts.

The first viaduct crossed the Rivers Trent and Tame at Alrewas and it was a timber construction running for one thousand two hundred and eighty six feet. The second viaduct was of brick and stone construction and it crossed the River Anker at Tamworth at a height of forty five feet, covering a distance of four hundred and seventeen feet.

Owing to pressure of work on other new railway lines, George asked the Board if his son, Robert ( 1803-1859 ), could take over the post of Engineer in his place and this was agreed to. Robert, in his turn, appointed John Birkenshaw as his assistant in June,1839.The course which had been selected for the railway, as it passed through the present parish of Barton under Needwood, was chosen with great care. It ran roughly parallel with the Turnpike Road (now the A 38) and a few feet above the flood plain of the River Trent. Until quite recently, when the Trent was dredged, the river used to flood regularly almost as far as the railway line.

From 1836 onwards, work was in progress along the whole length of the forty one miles of trackbed from Derby to Hampton. At Hampton, the route would follow the existing London and Birmingham Railway line to its terminus at Curzon Street in Birmingham. The track was sufficiently ready for a test run on the 29th.May, 1839 when Robert Stephenson took the locomotive 'Derby' from Birmingham to Derby and back declaring that, in his opinion, everything was in order. Two days later a Board of Trade Inspector was due to visit the new line and pass judgement. He must have approved of what he saw because the 'Official' first train left Curzon Street Station at 10.20 a.m. on the 5th.August,1839, carrying the Board of Directors.  It was hauled by the locomotive 'Tamworth'. The train arrived at Derby at 1.10 p.m. where the party was entertained with refreshments at a local hotel before returning to the station for the 4.00 p.m. departure for Birmingham. The public opening occurred on the 12th August,1839This viaduct was built to carry the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway over the river Anker. It later became part of the Midland Railway. The viaduct was begun by George Stephenson but completed by his son Robert in 1839.

Although only 7 m. high, the Anker Viaduct is built with massive proportions in rock-faced sandstone with eighteen arches of 10 m span and is over 200 m long. It has a distinctively wide cornice. It is Listed Grade II.


Biddle, Gordon, Britain's Historic Railway Buildings, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0198662475 (2003)

Biddle, Gordon & Nock, O.S., The Railway Heritage of Britain : 150 years of railway architecture and engineering, Studio Editions, ISBN-10: 1851705953 (1990)

Biddle, Gordon and Simmons, J., The Oxford Companion to British Railway History, Oxford, ISBN 0 19 211697 5 (1997)

Bonavia, Michael, Historic Railway Sites in Britain, Hale, ISBN 0 7090 3156 4 (1987)

Conolly, W. Philip, British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas And Gazetteer, Ian Allan Publishing, ISBN 0-7110-0320-3 (1958/97)

Jowett, Alan, Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland, Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0086-1. (March 1989)

Morgan, Bryan, Railways: Civil Engineering, Arrow, ISBN 0 09 908180 6 (1973)

Morgan, Bryan, Railway Relics, Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 0092 1 (1969)

Simmons, J., The Railways of Britain, Macmillan, ISBN 0 333 40766 0 (1961-86)

Simmons, J. The Victorian Railway, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0 500 25110X (1991)

Smith, Martin, British Railway Bridges and Viaducts, Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 2273 9 (1994)

Turnock, David, An Historical Geography of Railways, Ashgate, ISBN 1 85928 450 7 (1998)


Opening Times:
Visible at all times

How To Find:
By road: Off A51, on Amington Road


Weather Feed currently unavailable.