Leaderfoot (or Drygrange) Viaduct, near Melrose, Scottish Borders, by Charles Jopp and Wylie & Peddie. Officially opened on 16 November 1863 but delayed by stability problems, and only opened for use in October 1865. This Grade A listed structure is 130' high and 906' long ("Leaderfoot Viaduct," RailScot). Carrying a single track, it has nineteen spans, tall rounded brick arches, and "piers and spandrels of dressed red sandstone which are roughly coursed with snecks" ("Leaderfoot Viaduct," Canmore).

Closer view of the piers, spandrels and arches.

The viaduct originally carried the Berwickshire Railway across the River Tweed, connecting the Waverley Line (now part reopened) to the East Coast Main Line, thus linking Edinburgh to the junction at Reston (since closed, but set to re-open, see Cowen). The connections of this branch were really to small towns in the Borders (Duns, Earlstown, etc.). Flooding damage in 1948 almost led to its demolition, but fortunately it was restored by Historic Scotland in the early 1990s.

Our photographer, Colin Price, commented that Leaderfoot is perhaps the most graceful railway viaduct in Scotland. Certainly, the railway historian and artist C. Hamilton Ellis wrote, in his enthusiastic "Personal Introduction" to the history of the North British Railway, "How pretty was the sight of a little Wheatley engine with her two-coach train from Berwick and Duns slipping gently over the rosy arches of the Leaderfoot Viaduct of a summer evening!" (np.). In recent times, too, Peter Burman includes it among "Britain's most significant railway structures" (23).

Photographs by Colin Price, with commentary by Price and Jacqueline Banerjee, and formatting by Banerjee. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or to the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


"About Leaderfoot Viaduct." National Transport Trust. Web. 10 February 2021.

Burman, Peter. "Philosophies for Conserving the Railway Heritage." Conserving the Railway Heritage. Ed. Burnam and Michael Stratton. 1997. London: Routledge, 2013. 18-33.

Cowen, Ailsa. "Reston village set for new rail station for the first time in 50 years." Rail Technology Magazine. Web. 10 February 2021.

Ellis, Cuthbert Hamilton. The North British Railway. London: Ian Allen, 1955.

"Leaderfoot Viaduct" (see "Archaeology Notes"). Canmore. Web. 10 February 2021.

"Leaderfoot Viaduct." RailScot. Web. 10 February 2021.

Created 10 February 2021