On Feb 27 1983, the track was relaid on the new bypass bridge.
The steelwork was delivered in the first week of 1983 and installed during January and the concrete pour was 9 February.
The first vehicle over the bridge was the 6-ton steam crane. The next morning the Red Ruston was the first diesel locomotive to cross.
43106, 80079 and 4930 returned from main line duties at Hereford on the same day and became the first steam locomotives to cross the new bridge.
The bridge was completed in time for the line to re-open for the 1983 season. However construction of the bypass required lowering the B4555 Highley road to pass underneath it, and consequently increasing the height of the railway embankment. Less than two months later, the embankment collapsed a few yards beyond the bridge. Shropshire County Council and the SVR worked jointly for 14 hours a day seven days a week to reopen the line three weeks later.
Our own Victoria Bridge is in good company. Its designer John Fowler became engineer to the Severn Valley Railway v1 in 1855.
He was a civil engineer specialising in the construction of railways, and in 1853 became chief engineer for the world’s first underground Metropolitan Railway, built with the cut and cover method under the streets (which earned him some £152k, now worth £13.9M), and the District Railway and Hammersmith and City Railway – now the majority of the Circle Line.
During his training he worked on the Aire and Calder Navigation, and the London and Brighton Railway with John Rastrick. With George Leather he was resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway, and appointed its engineer when it opened in 1841.
His client list included the Great Northern, the Highland, the Cheshire Lines, the East Lincs, and the OW&W. After I K Brunel’s death in 1859 he was retained by the Great Western Railway. His designs include London Victoria Station, Sheffield Victoria, Glasgow St Enoch, Liverpool Central, and Manchester Central where the 64m wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain (after the roof of St Pancras).
His bridge designs include Grosvenor in the 1860s, the first railway bridge over the River Thames, and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct.
Our own Victoria Bridge was constructed 1859-61, and the near identical Edward Albert Bridge in nearby Coalbrookdale 1863-64.
When the Tay Bridge collapsed in 1879, Fowler and his partners Barlow and Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review the Bouch’s design for the Forth Bridge.
The recommendation was a steel cantilever, designed by Fowler and Baker, constructed 1883-1890. After its successful completion, Fowler was created a Baronet. Sir John Fowler 1st Baronet
The construction contract with Peto, Brassey and Betts followed Fowler’s specification which specified that cuttings and embankments were to be 30ft wide at formation level. For an additional payment of £20,000, all earthworks were to be built for double track. Tunnels were to be 24ft wide and not less than 16ft high at the centre and brick lined if the Engineer specified this was necessary. Bridgnorth Tunnel was to be built without shafts and without disturbing any buildings.
Although a clause in the contract that the railway should be built as a single line but with earthworks for double track for a consideration of an additional £20,000 was confirmed it was subsequently decided to defer the additional expenditure until traffic made doubling of the track necessary. In the event almost all bridges were built to double track capacity although Bridgnorth tunnel was only built to single track width.
1 Chain = 100 links or 66 feet
1 Mile = 80 chains or 5,280 feet
At a shareholders’ meeting on 23 February 1859, Fowler reported that; “…the acquisition of land for the purposes of the most important works on the line has been steadily attended to and the Contractors have placed men and materials on the ground as soon as they have had permission to do so. At the present time seven of the cuttings on the line have been completed and fourteen more are in progress. Ten of the bridges are also in progress, including the viaduct across the Stour at Stourport. A considerable number of rails and permanent way materials have been delivered.”
“The quantity of land actually in the hands of the Contractors at the present time is eleven miles and sixty chains but I am informed that a large additional quantity will be ready in a very short time. I see no reason to doubt that the line may be opened throughout on 1st October, 1860.“
(Fowler’s estimates of the completion date were always optimistic, although he emphasised that they were dependent on the availability of land.)
15 cubic meters (two truck loads) of ready mixed concrete got delivered yesterday for the infill on the LT jacks, the new cast iron storage outside and infill at the north end of the pit on road 2 in the yard.
Preparation had been going on for some time by our WW seconded team who had measured, cut, fitted, and checked the relevant areas:
Then the weekly loco missive requested ‘Assistance with shovelling, spreading, barrowing, compacting etc will be needed please’. Some 20 turned out to shovel, spread, barrow and compact.
cast iron storage outside – concrete pad for brake blocks and fire bars – note the rail reuse with concrete sleepers for the retaining wall
The Wailing Wall team involved have now returned to their normal work, with relief – after a job very well done.
Bridge 35 allows the road towards Cleobury Mortimer to pass underneath the railway. The plate-girder construction has a span of 55 feet on the skew and 35 feet on the square. As the points are beyond the bridge, locos cross it to run round, and the ‘viewing path’ at the foot of Panpudding Hill ends next to its northern abutment.
It has suffered a number of lorry strikes, the most recent in February 2008 when the railway was due to reopen after repairs following the 2007 big storm. The southern abutment was found to be out of alignment by about 10cm, and an emergency road closure was needed. The work was completed and the railway reopened on time on Saturday 9 February.
The long closure for engineering works gives us space to get projects done that need an absence of passengers.
The Tuesday and Saturday Wailing Wall sessions have been busy and productive, welcoming new recruits and enjoying the home-baked rock cakes.
Miles of fairy lights carefully unfastened, wound up, boxed and stacked in the events store. 8 carriage number signs and the gantries holding them, dismantled. Extension leads and fittings packed up. Hundreds of cable ties binned. All done very carefully and ‘working at height’ compliant.
The lamp post project has been ongoing for many years. Grants from the SVRCT and SVRG to support our own funds enabled a further batch to be ordered, and the main driveway was illuminated just in time for the seasonal evening trains – a godsend for the wellbeing and safety of our passengers.
Digging holes in the east facing soil embankment was quick and easy for the five posts involved. Not so for these two destined for the boiler shop crossing area.