Plate Rail


Fragment of plate rail found in the vicinity of the Laigh Milton Viaduct


SKU: 2015/005.1 Categories: , ,


Fragment of plate rail (c.1825) found in the vicinity of the Laigh Milton Viaduct during the conservation project undertaken 1995-96. The rail has a bottom flange which is believed to add strength.

This section of rail has the remains of a flattened spike (coloured red in the images) used to secure the ends of adjoining rails. It is considered likely that this fragment was fractured in use and casually disposed of nearby before being replaced. The rail had been lying in wet conditions for c. 150 years and was rusted. The rust has been removed and the rail painted black (the flattened spike attached to the end has been painted red).

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

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

Plate rail fragment

Manufactured by

Date of Manufacture

c. 1825



Supporting Items


Makers Number




Dimensions (mm)

Length: 445. See image for cross-section dimensions.


Date Donated

April 2015


Cast iron


Poor (rusted)

Display Location