Example of a stone block used on the Kilmarnock & Troon Railway to support the rails. The stone has a hole 1.5 in diameter and 5 in deep on the top side into which an oak plug had been inserted. A rail chair was positioned over this plug and two plate rail lengths were secured at their ends by a malleable iron nail (see 1997/011) which was hammered to be flush with the rail, passing through a hole in the rail chair to be secured in the oak plug. The figure to the right of the image shows the general layout of the stone, chair and rails.
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.
For further information on the viaduct see http://www.engineering-timelines.com/scripts/engineeringItem.asp?id=1243.
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.