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Tinsley Viaduct

In February, 1965 the Ministry of Transport accepted a tender from the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company for the construction of the Tinsley Viaduct on the M1 the Sheffield - Leeds Motorway. It would be a composite steel and concrete structure costing about 4,500,000. The Consulting Engineers were Freeman Fox and Partners.

Tinsley ViaductA girder section being moved into position during the construction of the viaduct in 1966. The upper deck will carry through traffic and the lower deck local traffic. It will be 3,200 feet long. It is recorded that the cost would be 6 million.


The image below appeared in a British Iron and Steel Federation advertisement in National Newspapers in September, 1966.

Tinsley Viaduct

'Steel cuts costs, carrying M1 on 2-level viaduct. The approved Tinsley Viaduct design employing a steelwork structure, has achieved a substantial cost saving. For its upper and lower decks, separate structural systems use high tensile steel continuous box girders carried on cantilevered steel cross-beams. M1 at the upper-level and the trunk road below are supported on high tensile steel box columns.


The image below a British Steel Corporation advert of June 1968.

Newly opened Tinsley Viaduct

Sweeping across the industrial Don Valley at Sheffield, the Tinsley Viaduct carries new streams of vehicles over all obstacles to free traffic movement - railways, cross-roads, a canal, river, factories and buildings of all kinds. An important new link in Britain's road programme has now been completed. The all steel 2-level viaduct is the first motorway structure of its kind in Britain. It provides an excellent example of the way modern steel is meeting and solving difficult design and construction problems. The viaduct carries the M1 on its upper deck as part of the Sheffield by-pass on the newly extended motorway route to Leeds. The lower deck forms an improved link in the local road traffic systems, serving the area between Sheffield and Rotherham. Steel has cut costs dramatically. The design of this unique project, which mainly employs high-strength steel in welded box-section construction has achieved a substantial cost saving compared with previous proposals using alternative materials. Planning like this, to improve Britains road system and solve traffic problems efficiently and economically means making the most of British Steel.


The image below another British Steel Corporation advert of June 1968.

Newly opened Tinsley Viaduct

New 20 span, double-decker Tinsley Viduct speeds traffic across a 3,400 foot wide built-up valley.

Tinsley Viaduct, November, 1969

In November, 1971 it was announced that the viaduct had fallen short of Government safety standards. The Department of the Environment said that the viaduct needed strengthening, it had not met the safety standard recommended in the interim report of the Merrison Committee inquiry in the September. The standards were laid down after the collapse of girder bridges during construction in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire and Melbourne, Australia.

After the report the government introduced traffic restrictions on 46 road bridges of the box-girder type in Britain. Two lanes were closed on the Tinsley viaduct.

It was announced in the Commons in May, 1972 that the growth of the fungus, aspergillus fumigatus, found in Tinsley Viaduct was more of a nuisance than a cause for concern. As the fungus presented a health risk and a general warning was sent out to maintenance workers.

In June, 1973, two of the four carriageways on the lower deck had been closed for three years and it was announced that Sheffield M.P., Mr. A. E. P. Duffy, was to raise questions in the House of Commons about the implications of the Tinsley problems to the British bridge building Industry. It has been said that the delay in dealing with Tinsley was due to the difficulty in finding an economical solution and one which did not spoil the appearance of the viaduct.

By July, 1973 although most of Britain's box-girder bridge problems had been cured, Tinsley Viaduct was still presenting problems.

Tinsley Viaduct A driver died and a passenger was seriously injured on 15th August, 1973, when a lorry plunged 120 feet from the viaduct. The lorry, loaded with scrap was travelling south when it smashed through the central reservation barriers, crossed the north bound lane and went through the outer guard rails. It crashed on to waste land, narrowly missing an electricity pylon, a main railway line and the river.The driver worked for David & F. Silverman of Manchester, died in the arms of a railway worker, Derek Lowe who dragged him clear of the wreck. The boy, David Assopardi of Greengate Lodge, Salford was taken to Sheffield Royal Infirmary.

At the inquest held at Sheffield on October 31st, Dr. Herbert Pilling, the coroner was told Safety barriers on an M1 viaduct through which a lorry driver plunged to his death were designed to cope only with cars and light goods vehicles. Dr. Pilling was uneasy at the thought that a coachload of people would stand little chance in a similar accident.

The jury returned an open verdict at the inquest into the death of Mr. George Skinner, aged 44 of Riverbank Tower, Greengate, Manchester.

A superintendent engineer from the Dept of Environment said the outer safety barrier would stop a one and a half ton vehicle travelling at 70 mph, striking the barrier at an angle of 20 per cent. It was designed to cope with vehicles going out of control in the same carriageway.

An European directive of 2002 meant that the viaduct needed further strengthening. This work was begun in July 2002 completed in early 2006. Read more

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