View of the Oxford Canal Viaduct from under the adjacent canal bridge 51365, via HS2

Warwickshire ‘ironstone’ finish to be used for HS2’s Oxford Canal Viaduct

HS2 confirmed yesterday that the railway’s new Oxford Canal Viaduct will have traditional Warwickshire ‘ironstone’ used to clad its supporting piers, reflecting the canal’s rich architectural heritage.

The historic canal was originally opened in separate stages between 1774 and 1790, making the iconic piece of infrastructure one of the oldest across Britain. Three concrete spans will be used to support and carry the railways 62.5m across the canal, towpath and a country lane near the village of Wormleighton.

The local ironstone will be used to face the piers and abutments that face onto the towpath and passing canal boats. The sedimentary rock is tough and hard, with a warm-brown hue to it, being a recurring feature in local infrastructure for hundreds of years.

To accommodate the cultural heritage of the canal, the use of this material was vital to the community, with local residents to the area being consulted throughout the design process, choosing from a smooth concrete finish or a rough-cut masonry finish for the viaduct piers – opting for the stonework finish. Accompanying the use of local stone, the viaduct has been designed to be as open as possible, thus enhancing the integration of the local environment, allowing views across the landscape and the horizon.

HS2 Ltd’s Senior Project Manager, Paul Cooper said:

“The construction of the first canals revolutionised transportation and helped to build the country we live in today so it’s fitting that our contemporary design includes a nod back to those eighteenth-century pioneers.”

“Once complete, HS2 will transform journeys across the UK, help to boost the economy and support the UK’s transition to net zero. But it’s also important that key structures like the Oxford Canal Viaduct are sensitive to their location, which is why we were keen to involve the community in key decisions, like the design of the viaduct piers.”

The continued progress of the HS2 project will see a total of 15 viaducts and bridges across the central section of the route, with designs coming from HS2’s main works contractor EKFB.

EKFB’s Interface and Stakeholder Director, Simon Matthews said:

“The Oxford Canal You Said We Did community event is a prime example of how HS2, EKFB and its designers worked alongside the local community to further enhance the exterior appearance of the viaduct’s supporting piers and abutments.

“The local stone detail reflects the canal’s original architectural characteristics which enriches and remains in keeping with its surrounding area.

“EKFB is pleased with the outcome from the community event and thanks the community for its input and support.”

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