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West Somerset Mineral Railway Project go to homepagelink to heritage lottery fund website
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The Incline

At 1010 metres long, rising 245 metres at an even gradient of 1 in 4, the Incline is the outstanding engineering feature of the West Somerset Mineral Railway.

 

It comprises the only length of double track on the line, a Winding House, Brake House and associated structures and was based on a self-acting arrangement (i.e. the weight of the descending wagons loaded with iron ore raised balancing wagons loaded with coal, lime and other materials for agricultural use.   

 

The Incline before start of groundworks
The Incline before start of groundworks

 

 

The long period of abandonment had  brought about blockages and the deterioration of several of the culverts and sluices as well as the accumulation of debris and vegetation over the track bed of the Incline.  The trackside drains had blocked and water ran across the track bed, causing erosion in some places and the build-up of waterlogged soil in others.  

 

 

 

 

Completed conservation work at the Incline Winding House
Completed conservation work at the Incline Winding House

 

Conservation work at the Incline has focused on two aspects, firstly the management of water and secondly the repair of a number of the structures along its length.  Also, as part of the work, a number of trees (27 in total) were removed to allow access, and scrub control was undertaken by volunteers.

 

The programme of conservation work was carried out under the challenging logistics of working on a complex structure which is itself a 1 in 4 slope situated in remote countryside.

 

The original construction of the Incline required a complex water management system; the Incline crosses several spring lines and streams.  One of the streams was permanently diverted.  In fact the problems of managing the runoff of water are documented from the very earliest days after the Incline was completed.   

 

 

 

 

The Incline. Underbridge 14 during repair work
The Incline. Underbridge 14 during repair work

 

A programme of groundworks was carried out in the Autumn of 2008 to stabilise the surface of the Incline and unblock the drains.  This was followed in spring 2009 by a programme of repairs to the Winding House, cable ducts, underbridge, stone sluices and culverts.  Repairs were also carried out on the massive Retaining Wall.  

 

During these repairs a major crack was revealed running up the Retaining Wall and discussions are now taking place with English Heritage as to the best way of repairing the structure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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