Heritage Locations

Arnside River Kent Viaduct

Long fifty span cast iron viaduct over the river Kent


Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Station road, Arnside, Cumbria LA5 0HQ


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The first use of jetted piles in the British Isles was for the construction of two major railway viaducts across river estuaries joining Morecambe Bay, for the Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway. One of these is Kent Viaduct over the River Kent estuary. The second viaduct is the Leven Viaduct near Ulverstone, built at the same date. Both are long and consist of a large number of short spans between cast iron columns. The Ulverstone & Lancaster Railway joined the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway at Carnforth in 1857.

Kent Viaduct's fifty spans are 9.1m centre to centre. The supporting 254mm diameter columns are grouped, some raking, some vertical. All are founded on tubular cast iron piles with large discs at their bases, jetted into position through the sand and silt sea bed and filled with concrete. The jetting method of sinking piles is used when the ground is sandy as a pile hammer would be impractical. Air or water (or both) is used under pressure to help the driving process.

Initially, there was a single railway track and each column group consisted of three vertical and one raking column. The doubling of the track in 1863 meant the widening of the viaduct. This brought the addition of another vertical and another raking column to each group.

Both viaducts originally had telescopic opening spans, 11m wide. The tracks were set at a height of 7.9m above water level. The viaducts originally had one wrought iron lattice girder spanning longitudinally under each running rail. These were replaced between 1885 and 1887 and some spans were altered.

By 1915, the cast iron columns had deteriorated to such an extent that it was decided to encase them in brickwork and concrete. This work was done to both viaducts. Kent Viaduct is the longer of the two, at 477m. It cost £15,056 to build and in 2011 is undergoing another major restoration. It is Listed Grade II.


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Opening Times:

Permanently viewable

How To Find:

By road: Off B2582

By rail: The viaduct lies two miles from Arnside Station


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