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CROSS Safety Report

Retaining wall collapsed onto highway due to heavy rain

Report ID: 791 Region: CROSS-UK


Overview

A 2.5m high sandstone retaining wall collapsed onto a highway following a period of heavy rain.

Key Learning Outcomes

For homeowners:

  • If you are concerned about the stability of a freestanding or retaining masonry wall on your property, have it inspected by a suitably qualified and experienced structural engineer 
  • There has been numerous failures associated with freestanding and retaining masonry walls and a previous Alert was issued by the Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS) – Preventing the collapse of freestanding masonry walls

Full Report

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A 2.5m high sandstone retaining wall collapsed onto a highway following a period of heavy rain. The wall was previously the rear wall of a small house built into the hillside, but was demolished several decades ago. The wall had been repointed in the past with a cementitious mortar and it seems unlikely that it was ever a dry stone wall given the previous use.

Prior to the collapse, the wall had a slight bulge approximately a third of the way up and in the preceding months water had been seeping out of the ground around and in front of the wall. The house belonging to the current owner of the wall is located above and behind the wall.

A modern extension had been added several years ago between the original house and the retaining wall however neither were damaged by the collapse. This is likely to be because when the extension was built, the Building Control officer insisted that the extensions for the foundations were taken down below the level of the retaining wall. The wall was rebuilt using gabions and water continues to seep out.

Expert Panel Comments

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