This week’s Friday Photo is of a structure you have probably seen before, if you’ve ever ventured into Digbeth, and you’d be mistaken for thinking that trains run along its tracks. But what is fascinating about this week’s photo is that the structure was never used for its original purpose…an elevated railway track. While Duddeston viaduct is a spectacular feat of Victorian engineering, no trains have actually ever run along it, because the tracks were never laid! The viaduct was built around 170 years ago, around the same time as Curzon Street, but never put to use. Designed by Brunel to connect the western line at Bordesley to Curzon Street, it should have taken three years to build but it was never completed, and ironically it never made it to Duddeston, despite its eponymous name. Many cities actually have abandoned viaducts, so Duddeston Viaduct is no exception!
Nearly three years ago I did some voluntary work with the High Line in New York City, photographing the 1.5 mile elevated rail tracks in Manhattan. I was intrigued by the The High Line because it’s a remnant of New York’s industrial past that has literally turned itself into a natural green-way, meandering its way through the west side of Manhattan and becoming a haven for nature, in one of the busiest, most populated, and noisiest cities in the world. And ever since I’ve been fascinated by Birmingham’s own version. Our very own Victorian version has also turned itself also into a natural green-way, lined with trees and shrubs, and it’s crying out for the same attention. There are potential plans to turn the viaduct into natural green-way linking Digbeth with rest of the city and I really hope it goes ahead, because after seeing the wonderful High Line for myself, we would be missing a trick if Birmingham didn’t have its very own!