Project profile: Lustleigh Bridge

Opening in 1866 on the former Newton Abbot – Moretonhampstead line in Devon, today it’s in our care and maintained with seven others.

Project profile: Lustleigh Bridge

Location: Lustleigh, Devon

Contractor: Dyer and Butler

Status: Not open to the public


The railway brought tourists to the area, as well as farmers' produce, nursery plants and blacksmiths' products.

The line grew in stature from its opening, Lustleigh was the last but one station on the 20 km branch line, off the South Devon Main Line.

Lustleigh station was used in 1931 film 'Hound of the Baskervilles', featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes.

The line started to decline and eventually closed in 1964.

About the structure

Set in the middle of the stunning Dartmoor landscape, Lustleigh Viaduct - which should in fact be Lustleigh Bridge because it is short and only has two arches whereas viaducts feature a series of arches or spans - was being damaged by several tree roots that were pushing into the masonry.

The two-span bridge was constructed in stone. All the structures on this line including Knowles bridge and Mill Leat & Church Path were constructed using granite from Lustleigh Cave.

What is the project?

Many of the structures we care for are in rural locations, where nature has taken hold of it. Tree roots can cause significant damage to brick work, so our contractors have removed all roots then applied a treatment to prevent regrowth. Our contractor Dyer and Butler worked from ropes to safely work from height.  Where roots are growing into the brick work, we’ll remove and reinstate brick work on a like for like basis so it’s in keeping with the structure’s original aesthetic.

Wingwall during works after removal of root ingress and moss

(Wingwall during works after removal of root ingress and moss)

In addition, we’ve repointed and repaired damaged brick work and stitched fractures.  

Before any work began ecologists checked the site, completing preliminary surveys to ensure no animals would be impacted by our work. 

HRE Engineer Matt Irwin said:

“Lustleigh Viaduct is as picturesque as it is quirky and we’re delighted these repairs have been successful as damage caused by trees is a common problem on many of our structures. The roots grow surprisingly quickly and if left untreated can cause significant issues.”

Find out more about maintenance and assessment on our dedicated page 

Lustleigh Bridge, spring 2023

(Lustleigh Bridge, spring 2023)

What stage is it at?

Veg clearance and waterproofing is complete.