Poiney Viaduct

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The Poiney Viaduct opened in 1856 as a part of the Madras Railway Company's line near Arcot. The crossing of the wide, sandy bottomed River Poiney required special techniques.

The Madras Railway's Chief Engineer George Barclay Bruce "had then laid out and partly constructed about 500 miles of the Madras railway, he departmental system of carrying out works without the intervention of contractors. From experience gained in Bengal he learned the difficulty of obtaining reliable men of this class and he decided to dispense with them in Madras, taking upon himself the responsibilities and risks of direct construction. He also set himself against the method commonly employed in India of carrying out public works by forced labour, and succeeded by patience and upright dealing in attracting the natives to his works as free labourers. In railway construction he adopted the method of building bridges in sandy foundations upon brick wells sunk by native divers, described in his Paper on "The Poiney Viaduct" presented to The Institution of Civil Engineers in 1857" [1] [2].


An image entitled "Viaduct on Madras Railway across the river Poiney in Arcot" available at Amamy.com [3] from “The Illustrated London News” 12 December 1857, gives an excellent picture of the viaduct and text that reads as follows:-

"The handsome structure which we have selected for illustration has been built by the Madras Railway Company for carrying their line over the River Poiney in Arcot, Southern India. The bridge is constructed of granite of a superior description and consists of fifty-six arches, each of 30 feet span. Some difficulty was experienced in constructing the foundations as nothing was met with but sand of great depth. To meet this difficulty brick cylinders or walls, as they are called in India, were sunk about 15 feet below the surface, and on these cylinders the bridge is founded. About three years were spent in constructing the bridge, the total cost of which was about £13,000, including engineering supervision. The Chief Engineer of the line at the time of construction was Mr George Barclay Bruce....."

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