Historic arches are saved from demolition

Grade II-listed Chorley Flying Arches being lifted back into place. (c) Network Rail
Grade II-listed Chorley Flying Arches being lifted back into place. (c) Network Rail
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Chorley’s historic Flying Arches have been returned to the railway after being saved from demolition.

The grade II-listed arches - thought to be one of only two surviving examples of their type in England - were at risk of being lost forever to enable a £400m project to electrify the railway line.

Built in 1843 on the Bolton and Preston railway, the 16 Victorian “strainer” arches were braced in a railway cutting.

But a collaboration between English Heritage and Network Rail has seen the Flying Arches given a new lease of life.

They were removed in 2008 and put in secure storage, before being temporarily replaced with steel versions.

Now work is nearing completion to reinstate the original arches in a slightly higher position to allow the installation of electrification equipment through the tunnel.

John Johnson, project manager at Network Rail, said: “This project is part of a £1bn+ investment to provide a better railway and boost the economy across the north of England.

“We are upgrading a Victorian railway and it is important that we maintain that link to its heritage. We have worked closely with English Heritage to make sure that the Chorley Flying Arches have been reinstated in their rightful place.”

Cathy Tuck, English Heritage’s heritage at risk project officer for the North West, said: “These arches are an important example of Victorian innovation. They were needed to strengthen the retaining walls of the cutting as it was feared that the clay behind might force the walls inwards causing them to collapse on the trains.It was a rarely used but very elegant solution.”