Project profile: Wheatley Viaduct

Built for the Halifax High Level Railway, Wheatley Viaduct measures over 180m long with a slight curve. It was mainly used to transport coal, with the last goods train running in 1960.

Project profile: Wheatley Viaduct

Location: Boy Lane, Wheatley

Contractor: Amco Giffen

Status: Not open to the public


Halifax had for years been disconnected from the railway network. Residents needed to get to Sowerby Bridge (some three miles away) to catch the train, and rail freight had to go there. It was not until 1844 that a branch line was finally constructed, which would connect Halifax at Shaw Syke.

The Halifax High Level Railway Line started from Holmfield, near Ovenden, running across Wheatley Valley on the Wheatley Viaduct, travelling on to St Paul’s Station at Queens Road.  

Railway line map drawing taken from our archives

(Railway line map drawing taken from our archives)

The viaduct connected to Wheatley Tunnel, which measures 745m long and was completed ahead of the viaduct, opening in 1876.

Useful in its time for transporting coal, the line gradually fell into decline and was closed, with the line dismantled.

About the structure

Wheatley Viaduct from ground level in October 2023

(Wheatley Viaduct from ground level in October 2023)

The brick and stone masonry viaduct sits in semi-urban surroundings, some 2km north west of Halifax. The viaduct has been closed to the public for safety but has been accessed by trespassers and has been vandalised over the years.

Having been standing for over 130 years, the viaduct has deteriorated. We’ve been looking after it for the last decade, carrying out repairs to brick work and regular vegetation clearance to prevent damage to the structure, and installing security measures to prevent people accessing it.

Wheatley viaduct in 1997

(Wheatley viaduct in 1997)

More recently our examiners shared concerns for the viaduct’s long-term future due to its poor condition, with open joints in areas of the brick arch barrels, missing brickwork and vertical fractures in the abutments.

We’ve developed a major works programme of repairs investing over £1 million pounds to refurbish and waterproof the viaduct to ensure it remains safe.

What is the project?

Viaduct hidden by excessive trees and vegetation in October 2023

(Viaduct hidden by excessive trees and vegetation in October 2023)

Working with our contractor Amco Giffen, a team of highly skilled people will:

  • carry out bat surveys before starting any repair works, to identify any bats using the structure and put in place measures to work around them, as well as stopping more bats entering the structure to avoid any delays to works
  • cut back vegetation from trees surrounding the viaduct to gain access
  • repair brickwork and masonry repairing spandrel separation, fractures between the arch soffit and voussoirs. This includes re-mortaring and stitching together pier eight using Cintec anchors
  • cut out and replace areas of water damaged brickwork and masonry from the arches and piers
  • re-bed displaced or loose masonry and replace missing masonry
  • mechanically re-mortar the internal and external faces of the parapets, piers, spandrels and arch soffits
  • install a waterproofing system to the full length of the viaduct deck, complete with drainage to carry water from the structure

As well as any additional works which may be identified on site during the works.

What stage is it at?

Working under a bat licence, ecologists have successfully completed bat inspections and exclusions across spans one to eight in October 2023, finding two Daubenton's bats within the masonry brick work of span four and one within span six. The inspection and exclusions mean we can work in these areas with no risk to bats.

Spans nine and ten have been designated as a ‘no disturbance area’ for bats during the hibernation period and we won’t be working in these areas until spring. We have installed additional hibernation boxes in these areas while repairs are happening to the rest of viaduct, and so that their roosting locations are re-instated.

Daubenton bat photographed by a special endoscope camera 

(Daubenton bat photographed by a special endoscope camera)

Our contractors have been working at height again - this time they’re coring through the viaduct’s voussoirs and arch barrels in span five, this is in preparation for the installation of Cintec anchors in spans one to eight. This will help in stabilizing and strengthening of unreinforced masonry stones in the arches that have separated over time and will reduce the effects of water ingress between cracks causing damage by continually freezing and thawing. 

Repointing works have also begun to the parapets on the inside of the viaduct.

Rope access workers coring the voussoir stones in the arch.

(Rope access workers coring the voussoir stones in the arch)

Repointing works taking place on the inside of the parapets

(Repointing works taking place on the inside of the parapets)

Community engagement – Litter pick 19 December 2023

Just before Christmas a group of HRE contractors from AmcoGiffen and local Halifax volunteers collected roughly 35 bags of rubbish from the local area surrounding Wheatley Viaduct. Litter is a huge issue across the country and is huge a threat to the environment and wildlife, which is why we’re so proud to be helping the community tackle these issues.

Read the full story: HRE volunteers join Halifax locals to make a clean sweep