Kenneth Pierce of Blantyre recently brought something to my attention. It would appear during the March 2015 rain and snow, the Central pier of Craighead Viaduct suffered a catastrophic collapse. This may come as a surprise to many people as it did to me. Roving photographer Jim Brown volunteered to go down to investigate and confirmed the viaduct pillar had indeed collapsed on to the Blantyre side, with practically nothing but the foundation remaining.
It is thought that either floodwater and a fast flowing River Clyde took away the pillar during March. This is confirmed to me by John Nesbit, who independently of Kenneth’s query, reported this to me in recent days. It is further supported by Jim Brown’s conversation with local fisherman, who suggested this happened a couple of months ago.
The base remains but the larger part of it has fallen into the river and indeed some on the Blantyre embankment.
Pictured are 2 photos of how the Central Pier used to look and 2 photos of it now collapsed. It was rumoured that the viaduct became unused by the railway as it was showing signs of subsiding, something not unsurprising given the proximity to local collieries in the early part of the 20th Century. The viaduct closed to trains in 1952. Just as well it did. Had this pillar collapsed in that era, it would surely have created a Blantyre Railway Disaster! The pillars on the Blantyre side were demolished by controlled demolition in 2008, perhaps , retrospectively a good idea if somebody had pinpointed safety concerns. The pillars on the Bothwell side remained since that date until this year. The remaining abutment and single standing large pillar’s future is now uncertain.
Today though, I report sadly that another iconic part of Blantyre is now gone forever.