Restoring Falling Sands Viaduct

Our 'helping hands for Falling Sands' fundraising campaign secured £1.3 million in donations and a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This meant work began at the very end of 2019 to restore Falling Sands Viaduct.

This ambitious programme of works was split into two phases; the first dealing with the internal structure of the viaduct itself, in order to improve the drainage and incorporate a waterproof layer; the second saw contractors use rope access to replace damaged bricks and repoint the mortar on the outside walls and arches of the bridge. Take a look at the Falling Sands website for more information on the restoration.

In addition, as part of the Falling Sands Viaduct project, we're engaging with SVR visitors about the little known Victorian history of the railway. We are developing exhibition spaces at the Engine House in Highley and our mobile exhibition the Stove R, to tell the stories of the people who built the viaduct back in 1875, and the changing landscape around the Kidderminster Loop-Line.


Falling Sands recognition wall

Our impressive Falling Sands recognition wall is in place at The Engine House, Highley.  With its seven arches mirroring the viaduct itself, and spanning 21 metres in length, this stunning installation acknowledges donations made in the names of 3,000 individuals, community organisations, businesses and grant-making bodies. It is a fitting testament to all those who have shown such determination to save Falling Sands Viaduct. 

The restoration

Work on the viaduct started at the very end of December 2019, when the track was lifted by a team of volunteers and paid staff, to allow the contractors to begin the task of removing the ballast and fill from the viaduct. The timing was chosen to make the most of the annual six week shutdown period. After the sandstone infill was removed from the viaduct, our contractors improved the drainage channels and added a modern, waterproof membrane, before putting everything back together.

Once the brickwork dried out, the next aim was to replace and fix damaged bricks, by having experts suspended over the side of the viaduct to access under the arches. Although the Railway closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to start this second phase of the restoration works in May 2020. This was possible mainly because the type of work kept within social distancing guidelines. Phase 2 also had no impact on the reopening of the Railway, which took place in August 2020, as the work could be done whilst trains were in operation.

Unfortunately, bats were sited at the viaduct at the end of May, which caused a number of delays and cost increases. Work restarted at the end of June and thanks to the hard work of everyone on site, and SVR volunteer Nick Yarwood who oversaw the restoration, our contractors left site at the end of December 2020. 

Over 250,000 people experience the joy of heritage rail travel at the SVR every year, and we want to make sure this continues long into the future.

For more details please go to our website to find out more.

Here's one of the short films we made to promote our 'helping hands for Falling Sands' appeal. Please note that this appeal is now closed and you can no longer add a name to the donation wall..