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Camden Crescent Viaduct

Gill, Jonathan (2006) Camden Crescent Viaduct. Project Report. Oxford Archaeological Unit Ltd. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Oxford Archaeology have undertaken a programme of historic building recording and investigation into a viaduct which supports the road immediately in front of Camden Crescent in Bath. The works have been undertaken in advance of a limited programme of structural works and refurbishment. Although Camden Crescent is a magnificent Grade I listed monument which adds to Bath’s architectural heritage only two thirds of the original composition was completed. A series of landslides during construction in the late 1780s halted work on the northern third of the crescent and eventually resulted in this section being pulled down due to the lack of a solid foundation. The viaduct, which raises the level of the road above the steep slope of Beacon Hill on which the crescent is built, shows much evidence of the instability of the ground and it has clearly had many phases of patching, propping and substantial reconstruction. Construction on Camden Crescent started in c.1788 but as referred to above major problems were encountered with establishing a firm foundation and it may be that both the building and the viaduct supporting the road immediately in front were not completed for several years. A view dated 1794 shows the completed crescent and although this was presumably a ‘proposed’ or ‘as intended’ view rather than ‘as built’ it is useful as it clearly shows a viaduct (with 11-arches) as part of the original scheme. Both this view, and another from 1845, show the original viaduct with stone voussoirs rather than the brick vaults now in-situ. A plan of 1852-4 shows a road at the front of Camden Crescent but with a different alignment to that which survives today narrowing from c.10 m wide in its northern half to less than 3 m wide at its southern end. The 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886 suggests that a major reconstruction occurred between these two maps which included a realignment of the southern part of the road. The road layout shown on the 1852-4 map would suggest that the entire southern half of the road was realigned between the 1850s and the 1880s but evidence suggests that the road shown on the 1852-4 map was somewhat schematic. On the map the road is shown with an irregular width quite different to that shown on each of the views and although it probably did narrow towards the southern end it is unlikely to have followed the exact line on the map. The non-intrusive ‘archaeological’ investigation also suggests this interpretation. The southern end (beyond the arched vaults) has clearly been reconstructed and is of a later date than the adjacent facing wall of the viaduct. The rest of the road probably follows its original layout although most of the vaults have been reconstructed in later 19th or 20th-century brick. These vaults rest on older stone sleeper walls which probably survive from the original viaduct. Several vaults in the northern half retain more substantial original elements including partially surviving stone vaults (behind the later brick portals). The viaduct also shows much evidence of later patching to the arch portals as well as one of the vaults reconstructed in in-situ poured concrete.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Historic building investigation and recording
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Bath and North East Somerset
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
ID Code:200
Deposited By: Joseph Reeves
Deposited On:02 Mar 2010 17:51
Last Modified:22 Dec 2011 14:26

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