Class 175/1 No. 175106 crosses Loughor Viaduct near Gowerton with 1V89 15.30 Manchester Piccadilly to Pembroke Dock. This viaduct is the sole remaining example of an isambard Kingdom Brunel timber pile viaduct. Originally opened in 1852 and was 750ft long with a 40ft opening swing section at the Swansea end.The original deck trusses were replaced in the 1880's with wrought-iron girders, but major work was carried out in 1908-09 which saw the swing section dispensed with and deeper steel girders erected supported on a new arrangement of eight new piles, driven in four pairs, thus changing the Brunel design from a three pile group to a four pile group. Brunels three pile groups still remaining in place up to the lower waling level where they were cut off. Further major refurbishment took place in 1979-81 in a sympathetic fashion to the 1909 work and stone was tipped to arrest serious erosion of the river bed, it was discovered that no shipworm damage had occurred due to barnacle growth. The viaduct is about to change again very soon, as work is due to start on complete renewal by Network Rail. The new viaduct will see the end of the timber trestles, apart from a couple at the west end which will remain in situ as a demonstration, but will play no part in supporting the new viaduct.
Chris Booth       

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