IT contains some seven million bricks and stretches for over 600 metres and remains one of the most impressive legacies of Victorian architecture in East Lancashire.

The viaduct at Whalley, even by the standards of the age, was a pretty staggering piece of engineering with 49 arches taking the railway line from Whalley to Clitheroe.

The main picture taken from our archive shows workers putting the finishing touches to one of the arches.

Clearly this was in the days long before health and safety regulations as the men stand, seemingly without nerves, on basic planks almost 70 feet above the River Calder. They have no harnesses and flat caps rather than hard hats are the order of the day.

Construction of the viaduct proved to be a dangerous business. Taking more than four years to complete, tragedy struck in October 1849 when two of the arches which were being built collapsed. Heavy rain was blamed for the accident with the arches collapsing when the timber supports holding them up were removed. The damp meant that the brickwork had not hardened sufficiently.

The viaduct was completed in 1850 with the line opening on Saturday, June 22. A party was held for all the workers who had been involved in the project - around 350 men.

They were also give a ride across the structure in one of the first trains on the line with 15 carriages being required to carry them all.

Clearly everyone was in high spirits and reports at the time mention that a dozen men ‘armed with trunches’ were positioned at Whalley Station to keep the rowdier elements of the party in order and to control the crowds of people who came along to watch the opening.

The viaduct remains the largest railway viaduct in Lancashire and it is now a Grade II listed structure. It underwent a major renovation in 2016 when £1.6m was spent strengthening the arches with 2,800 steel brackets being fitted and a new drainage system installed at ground level in a bid to prevent flooding.

It now stands in stark contrast to the beautiful landscape which surrounds it - and remains impressive monument to the ingenuity and skill of our Victorian forefathers.