Malleable iron spike used to secure the ends of adjoining iron plate rails


SKU: 1997/011 Categories: , ,


Malleable iron spike to secure the ends of adjoining iron plate rails on the Laigh Milton Viaduct on the Kilmarnock & Troon Railway. The nail has a square chamfered head which was hammered through a pre-formed chamfered notch in adjoining castings into an oak plug located beneath within a 2 in (51 mm) diameter hole in the centre of a stone block. Each block measured about a foot (0.3 m) square and 9 in (0.23 m) deep. See image for position of nail – centre left and bottom left.

This object was found during the Laigh Milton Viaduct Conservation Project (1995-1996). The viaduct, believed to be the world’s oldest on a public railway, was the work of leading civil engineer William Jessop. The double-track, horse-operated railway was opened in 1812, mainly for the export of coal, although it soon carried passengers. In 1816 it was the first railway in Scotland to operate with a Stephenson steam locomotive; nine years before the Stockton & Darlington.
Numerous significant railway relics were found during the restoration and this is just one of a number of them donated to ICE Scotland Museum.

For a detailed description of the conservation works click here.

Professor Roland Paxton wrote a paper for the Journal Historical Studies in Civil Engineering of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers. To read the paper click here.

For a general description and images of early cast iron plate railways see https://tringlocalhistory.org.uk/Railway/c03_track.htm.

For a film of the restoration works click here.

For an article on the history of the Kilmarnock & Troon Railway written by John Yellowlees in the Scotsman newspaper (dated 25 August 2022) click here.

Additional information

Acquisition Number


Item Type

Short Description

Wrought iron spike

Manufactured by

Date of Manufacture

c. 1810



Supporting Items


Makers Number




Dimensions (mm)

Shaft: 126 (L) x 12 x 6; Head: 32 x 23


Date Donated

December 1977


Wrought iron


Poor to fair (rust damage)

Display Location