Five Arches Viaduct, Somerset. The Five Arches Viaduct – or North Somerset Viaduct, to use the official railway name – is situated on both the Somerset & Dorset Railway, and the Bristol & North Somerset Railway, between these companies' rival stations at Radstock and Midsomer Norton. At Radstock, The S&D station was situated to the north of the B&NS one, but by the time the lines had reached Midsomer Norton, the S&D station was to the south of the B&NS one; the lines crossed each other at the Five Arches. Although the viaduct has survived intact, it is not especially high, and this has enabled the surrounding trees to hide much of it, making it difficult to take a photograph which does justice to its size. Having been thwarted by the vegetation in the summer, Bob Spalding returned in November to try again.

The Wikimapia website provides some useful details, which will interest anyone who wants to go out and explore the site for themselves. This is what it has to say: 'As stated, [the viaduct] was known as Five Arches, with all but one ? [sic] being used when it was built in the late 18th century. Apart from the GWR (Bristol & North East Somerset [sic]), another arch was required for the brook, one for the road between Radstock / Norton (via Welton Hollow prior to Somervale Road) and yet another for the Somerset Coal Canal tramway (dramway) from Radstock basin to Old Welton & Welton Hill Pits – with a little used 'branch incline' to Wellsway Pit. (The tunnel for this incline is still evident on the north side of Somervale Road, just before Welton Road converges). John.'

If the mysterious 'John' would like to make himself known to us via our Contact page, we will be pleased to give him a proper credit.

Above: One of the delights of the Five Arches Viaduct is its unusual structure, including angled arches which give it almost a scupltural appearance. As can be seen here, a revetment connects the arches at the north end with those at the south. The Somerset & Dorset Railway ran over the top. November 2013. (Bob Spalding)

Above: From north to south, the viaduct comprises two arches (plus a 'blind' one) where the S&D crosses the B&NS; a revetment; and then three arches over the shallow valley of the local brook, which is actually the River Somer. These are the three arches to the south, which normally are largely concealed by trees. When the S&D was operational, none of this vegetation was present, and any photographer could get a good picture of the entire structure. November 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: This is the view of the Five Arches Viaduct from the trackbed of the B&NS (later GWR) looking from the direction of Midsomer Norton & Welton Halt towards Radstock West station. The low autumn sun and high contrast make the bricks look very pale, but they are actually blue engineering bricks. November 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: This is the north end of the viaduct, with the B&NS/GWR line passing under the furthest span on the left. The unusual 'footprint' of the viaduct at this end simplified the construction of the arch over the S&D's rival, which otherwise would have required an even more complicated skew construction than it received. The bricks, in shade from the November sun, show clearly their true colour; they are baked to a higher temperature than their red counterparts, and as a result are much stronger. They were one of the classic engineering features of another lost main line – the Great Central Railway. November 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: The kink in the viaduct's footprint may have reduced the skew, but – as can be seen in this photograph from the S&D trackbed – the arch had to be skewed nonetheless. From here back to the site of Radstock North station, the S&D trackbed is owned by the local authority, but has not been converted into a cycle trail because that would have duplicated the Radstock-Five Arches cycle trail built on the old B&NS trackbed. However, from west of Five Arches, both trackbeds now accommodate cycle trails, the B&NS one leading to Thicket Mead, and the S&D one to Westfield and the preserved railway station at Midsomer Norton South. Summer 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: Sic transit gloria mundi. Railway companies have come and gone in this part of north Somerset, but so too have local authorities. This bridge plaque, which can just be seen in the photograph above, commemorates the restoration in 1993 of the Five Arches Viaduct by Wansdyke Council, which has now been replaced by the new unitary authority, Bath & North East Somerset Council, or BANES as it is commonly known. Summer 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: Back on the B&NS trackbed looking towards Radstock West. The railings seen above the parapet may have been installed as part of the 1993 restoration, for they do not appear consistently in 20th century photographs of the viaduct (see this image from the 1950s). We wonder if the originals were removed during World War 2 as part of the government's metal collection efforts. Summer 2013. (Bob Spalding)
Above: On the B&NS trackbed again, this time looking towards Midsomer Norton and Welton Halt. The arch on the extreme right of this picture is the blind one. This photograph was taken on the day of the official opening of a new cycle trail along the S&D trackbed from just west of this viaduct to Westfield and Midsomer Norton South. This completed the conversion of all four former railways out of Radstock, making the town the hub of a significant network of off-road cycle trails. 24th September 2011. (Jeff Vinter)