posted on 15th Feb 2023 11:54
On 15 February 2023 HS2 confirmed that traditional Warwickshire ‘ironstone’ will be used to clad the piers supporting the high speed railway’s new Oxford Canal Viaduct as a nod to the canal’s architectural heritage after engaging with the local community. Set low in the landscape, three concrete spans will carry the railway 62.5 m across the canal, towpath and a country lane near the village of Wormleighton close to the border between Warwickshire and West Northants.
Local ironstone will be used to face the piers and abutments that face onto the towpath and passing canal boats. Tough and hardwearing, the warm-brown stone been a feature of local buildings for hundreds of years and gets its name from the small quantities of iron ore contained within it. As part of the design process, local residents were given a choice of smooth concrete finish or a rough-cut masonry finish for the viaduct piers - with the majority opting for ironstone.
As well as using local stone, the viaduct has been designed to be as open as possible to improve the environment for boaters and walkers, allowing views across the landscape and the horizon. The design combines a simple overall form with a special focus on materials for the parts of the structure that are close to the canal and its visitors.
Opened in stages between 1774 and 1790, the 120 km long Oxford Canal is one of the oldest in Britain and was designed to bring coal from the Coventry coalfields to Oxford and the River Thames. The Oxford Canal Viaduct is one of 15 viaducts and bridges across the central section of the HS2 route which is being designed by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB - a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial and Bam Nuttall - working with architects Moxon and design partners ASC – a team made up of Arcadis, Setec and Cowi.