Leaderfoot Viaduct

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Leaderfoot Viaduct
Leaderfoot Viaduct, Roxburghshire.jpg
The Leaderfoot Viaduct
Carrying: Former Berwickshire Railway
Crossing: River Tweed
Grid reference: NT57383474
Location: 55°36’16"N, 2°40’41"W
Material: Stone and brick
Owned by: Historic Scotland

The Leaderfoot Viaduct, also known as the Drygrange Viaduct, is a disused railway viaduct over the River Tweed near Melrose in Roxburghshire. It crosses the Tweed at the foot of Lauderdale, just above the point where its river, the Leader Water, joins the Tweed (hence the name 'Leaderfoot'). The Leader marks the border with Berwickshire to this point: the Tweed then marks the border downstream.


The disused trackbed

The viaduct was opened on 16 November 1863 to carry the Berwickshire Railway, which connected Reston (in Berwickshire) with St Boswells (in Roxburghshire), via Duns and Greenlaw.[1]

The engineers of the railway were Charles Jopp and Wylie & Peddie.[2]

The railway was severely damaged by flooding during August 1948, with 7 bridges on the line failing, and the line closed to passenger traffic on 13 August 1948.[1][3] Freight trains continued to run across the viaduct as far as Greenlaw until 19 July 1965.

In 1981, the poor condition of the viaduct meant that it was due to be demolished.[4][5]

The viaduct was upgraded from Category B to A listing in 1986.[6] Historic Scotland took over control of the viaduct from British Rail in 1996.[7][8]


The viaduct with the amphitheatre at Trimontium

The viaduct stands 126 feet from the floor of the river valley.[2] The arches, each of 43-foot span, are of brickwork, and the abutments, piers and walls are of rustic-faced red sandstone. Some later strengthening of the abutments and piers with old rails and buttresses on the southern valley side is very obvious.[2] It is straight over its whole course, and runs in a broadly northerly direction.

The viaduct is in good condition, having been renovated between 1992 and 1995.[2][6] Repairs included replacement of masonry and brickwork, grouting, and underwater repair to one of the cutwaters.[9]

The site is near that of the Roman settlement of Trimontium, which is to the south-west of the viaduct. To the east of the viaduct are the Drygrange Old Bridge, a road bridge dating from 1776, and its modern successor, the Leaderfoot Bridge. This group of three bridges is sometimes known as 'Tripontium' in humorous tribute to the nearby Roman site, Trimontium.[2] To the east of the viaduct, the Leader Water flows into the Tweed from the north.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Leaderfoot Viaduct)


  1. 1.0 1.1 CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Gordon Station
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Leaderfoot Viaduct
  3. Benn, Jeremy (2013). "Railway bridge failure during flooding in the UK and Ireland". Proceedings of the ICE - Forensic Engineering 166 (4): 163 –170. doi:10.1680/feng.2013.166.4.163. SSN 2043-9903. http://www.ice.org.uk/ice_web_portal/media/events/railway-bridge-failure-during-flood-in-the-uk-v2-nov-12.pdf. 
  4. "Braced for bungee battle at the bridge". The Herald. 8 March 1994. http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/braced-for-bungee-battle-at-the-bridge-1.716696. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  5. The Marlow Donkey. 2010. pp. 17–18. http://www.mdrs.org.uk/documents/donkey131.pdf. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Leaderfoot Viaduct (Category A) - Listing detail (Historic Environment Scotland)
  7. Burman, Peter; Stratton, Michael (1997). Conserving the Railway Heritage. Taylor & Francis. pp. 217–218. ISBN 978-0-419-21280-5. https://books.google.com/books?id=wJFeAvg-3JsC&pg=PA217. 
  8. "Historic Scotland aquires Borders viaduct". The Scotsman. 11 March 1996. 
  9. Burman, Peter; Stratton, Michael (2014). Conserving the Railway Heritage. Taylor & Francis. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-136-74493-8. https://books.google.com/books?id=x-MBAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA149. 

Bridges and crossings on the River Tweed
Redbridge Viaduct Melrose Bridge Gattonside Suspension Bridge Leaderfoot Viaduct Drygrange Old Bridge Leaderfoot Bridge Dryburgh Suspension Bridge