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Building record MDR4658 - Belper Cutting, North Midland Railway, Belper

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

SK 3447. Railway cutting and bridges were used to avoid splitting the community of Belper in 1839 when the railway was built. (1) A cutting runs through the town of Belper, over a mile long, lined with masonry walls and with ten bridges. (2) The walls of the railway cutting extend from approximately 55 yards north of Long Row to Field Lane Bridge and from approximately 45 yards north of King Street to New Road Bridge. They consist of fine embankment walls of rusticated stone and are Grade II structures. This part of the North Midland Railway was surveyed by George Stephenson and there is some evidence of Francis Thompson's involvement in the design of the cutting walls and bridges. The railway was constructed in a mile long cutting through the town centre in order to provide minimum disturbance to the established street pattern. (3) The road bridges carrying the pre-existing streets over the railway cutting are Grade II structures. The railway was surveyed by George Stephenson and there is some evidence that the bridges were designed by Francis Thompson. They are rusticated stone bridges with ashlar coping and quoins. (4) The North Midland Railway, which opened in 1840 on a route between Derby and Leeds surveyed by George and Robert Stephenson, the pioneer railway engineers, passes through the World Heritage Site between Derby and Ambergate. It contains numerous engineering structures of the highest quality which were the work of the Stephensons and their supervising engineer, Frederick Swanwick. The route of the railway through Belper was the subject of lengthy negotiation between the Strutts and the North Midland Railway company. The details are obscure, but it would appear that the company's first proposals were unacceptable to the Strutts and had to be modified. The line was to have been driven through Belper to the west of Bridge Street, crossing under Bridge Street near Crown Terrace and finally leaving Belper close to the school buildings on Long Row. Such a line would have been clearly visible from Bridge Hill House and it may have been this which forced the Stephensons to reconsider their proposals. In the end a line was chosen which kept the railway well to the east of Bridge Street and in a cutting throughout all of its length through the town. An agreement with the Strutts compelled the company to design each of the bridges carrying the streets severed by the line in such a way as would not alter the existing slope of the street. The result is an impressive man-made 'gorge' with sides of rusticated stonework with a stone band carried round from bridges and internal buttresses. Most of the original bridges have survived and spanning the railway along the cutting are a number of fine original bridges. Road bridges span the railway at Field Lane, where the north parapet has been replaced by a metal guard, George Street, Gibfield Lane, Joseph Street, Long Row and William Street. A footbridge spans the railway at Pingle Lane. The construction of the bridges generally comprises an elliptical arch in rusticated rock-faced stone with ashlar copings, impost bands, quoins and voussoirs. (5) A long, stone-lined cutting through the middle of the town engineered by Robert Stephenson and Frederick Swanwick as part of the North Midland Railway [SMR 99032]. The station was originally at the south end of this cutting [see SMR 17054], but it was moved to its present more central site in 1878. (6)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: 1975. Council of British Archaeology Panel on Industrial Monuments. 6.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Nixon, F. 1969. The Industrial Archaeology of Derbyshire. p 228.
  • <3> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry number 1335676.
  • <4> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry numbers 1100288, 1335685, 1087356, 1109236, 1109224, 1109242.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Derwent Valley Mills (DVM) Nomination Steering Panel. 2000. Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage List Nomination Document.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 2011. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology: A Gazetteer of Sites, Part III, Borough of Amber Valley (second edition). p 3.



Grid reference Centred SK 3481 4748 (93m by 1630m) Approximate

Related Monuments/Buildings (10)

Related Events/Activities (0)

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Record last edited

Sep 30 2023 10:52PM

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