Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 02, 2017
Webpage updated: May 19, 2019

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Just to the south of Ford Station was Ford Viaduct, spanning what at the time of its construction was still Keyham Creek or Keyham Lake.

An excellent 1950s view from Ford Tunnel across Ford Viaduct to  Ford Station.
Note the Devonport King's Road Down Distant Signal.
Anthony R Kingdom.
Courtesy of Devon Library Services.

Ford Viaduct was quoted in official railway documentation as being 135 yards long and 83 feet at its extreme height.  It comprised of seven spans, each 50 feet long. 

Two incidents are recorded in connection with the construction of the Viaduct.  A temporary tramway had been constructed about 30 or 40 feet above Keyham Creek to convey materials from one side of the water to the other.   It was supported on heavy wooden beams and on Tuesday September 25th 1888 Police Constables Pearse and Holland, who were on duty at Ford, discovered that a fire was burning at the bottom of one of these supports.  They presumably distinguished the fire quite easily and quickly, after which Messrs Wise and Parrish, the foremen of works, 'started inquiries to find the perpetrators.'

N-class number 31847 coming off Ford Viaduct at Ford Station with a
Friary Goods Yard to Exmouth Junction pick-up freight train on March 12th 1960.
From the author's collection.

At just before 2pm on October 29th 1888, Mr Richard Netherby, a 46-years-old carpenter, of 5 Saint Levan Road, and Mr Thomas James Weston, a labourer, were working on one of the stages under the third arch, where they were releasing the "deals" from the framework.  Both men were pushing the plank towards the lower part of the arch, down which it would then go broadways.   Weston apparently pushed his end 'with some little greater force than the other end', whereupon the end that Mr Netherby was holding "kicked" and struck him in the temple.  This knocked him off the stage and he fell some 70 feet to his death.  Mr Richard Cleave, a leading man of masons, saw him fall on his back on to a culvert and then roll over in to Keyham Lake.  Despite being attended by Mr Christopher Bulteel, who was driving by in his carriage at the time, and Mr Thorn, a surgeon from the Royal Albert Hospital, Netherby died about 15 minutes later.  At the subsequent inquest, held on October 30th, Mr William Parrish, the general foreman of works, stated that he thought that a nail had been left in the centre of the plank and that this nail caught on one side of the rib, forcing one end of the plank down first.   Mr Netherby left a wife and family.

Ford Viaduct was demolished in 1987 and the route of the railway has now been filled in with housing and a footpath.