It is 50 years since a Lancashire landmark of the industrial revolution bit the dust. Conor Marlborough reports on the demolition of the Nine Arches railway viaduct near Chorley
It was not so much an explosion, more a bang and a thud.
Demolition of the nine-arch railway viaduct at Botany Brow, Chorley, might have come as something of an anti-climax, to many of the thousands who turned up expecting the big bang to shower debris into the air.
But it did not go up, it went down. Like a pack of cards, it crumbled into the valley below, and one of the town’s most prominent landmarks had ceased to exist.
The 300ft long viaduct was demolished by a controlled explosion, to make way for the new M61 linking Preston and Manchester.
Its end, however, though expected, was more sudden than some people were anticipating.
Three short blasts on a siren, then a bang and a cloud of smoke and it was all over.
The old stone structure, which had spanned the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Botany, had stood for almost a century.
It was opened in 1869, and carried the railway line from Chorley to Blackburn until the line was closed in 1956.
Long before the scheduled demolition time, the thousands, who wanted to watch, started pouring into the area.
They covered nearby hillsides and massed on every possible vantage point along Blackburn Road.
Undeterred by the bitter cold, many of the huge crowd stood waiting expectantly for well over an hour.
Then suddenly, it was all over. As a huge dust cloud settled, the crowds streamed towards where the viaduct used to be.
In the space of a few seconds, the march of progress had taken away a big, familiar chunk of Chorley.