Thursday, 5 October 2017

Three Bridges

The planning for the electrification of the GWR was in the offing for a long time in fact back in 2009 preparation started  started with the bridges that were too low being replaced.The low bridges were at Purley, Lower Basildon, South Stoke, South Moreton Didcot & Oxford. The bridges at Purley were held up due to a local group objecting saying they were Brunell bridges and needed preserving and it was taken to court. When I found out about the bridges were to be demolished I set about recording the old bridges before they were gone

One that is only see if you walk up the track is the one over the Moreton Cutting only used for farm traffic

I visited the day they were surveying it for the work that was going to be done

 The bridge looking from the Sands road bridge along the line, the Moreton sidings can be seen on the other side

Further up the line the Sands Road bridge crossing the line between North & South Moreton
The bridge looks quite new in the photo that is because a few years previous they upgraded it by straightening the bridge approach. The old copping stones which had graffiti on them I'm told ended up at the local school

The bridge along the side and on the right you can see how low the arches are

One thing you noticed was the sign waring you of children around

another view of the bridge arches
You can see the blackening on the arches from the old steam trains that ran through years ago

The bridge deck for the sands Road bridge was built a couple of months before in the field nearby and was  ready by the 23rd of December

Christmas Eve the crane was being assembled and the bridge made ready for the lift 

They had closed the bridge in the middle of December 2009 and work on the bridge  at Moreton and work started

Over to the right is footbridge to keep the two communities of North & South Moreton connected
below on the bridge you could see lines cut deep in the Victorian brickwork

We waited for the work to happen

Just before midnight on Christmas Eve work was supposed to start after the last train had gone through

Down below men were moving around

A huge crane was erected to move the new bridge in place

You can see the new bridge in the floodlights where it was built in the field
The whole area was floodlit

Next morning on Christmas day

Little seem to have changed
But on the opposite side a crusher waited

Under the bridge an excavator moved huge pieces of wood in place to stop the track getting damaged

It was not long before things started to happen

The peckers went across the bridge removing the parapet

 The two peckers at work

Down below another pecked the bridge was well

I must admit it seem to take a long time

as they carefully removed the sides, mind you there seem to be a fair amount of rebar in it

Work carried on all day
and eventually the bridge was gone by the next day
The large crane waited

Men prepared the base for the new supports that were to go in

dusk came and that was it because the crane that had been brought in could not lift the deck in place so I heard

Next time I visited was the end of December
The huge crane

Up the line you could see the new bridge in place near the Moreton cutting, this was taken from the Fulscot bridge near Didcot
The Bridge supports were in place for the Sands Road Deck

They looked very sturdy and heavy
 The precision used to fit them amazed me

There seemed to be very little left to do to finish the abutment off
You could see the bridge bearings on the top that supported the deck

From a distance on Cholsey hill you could see a huge crane

Two days later the bridge was in place, I had missed it. Seems it was lowered into place at around two in the morning

Work had slowed up

but the new bridge deck was in place

Seemed odd looking at an unfinished bridge

It would be another two to three months before it opened.

A year later work was due to start on this bridge at Spring Farm near Goring, found out because going to Reading on the train I spotted the temporary bridge that had been built nearby.  The bridge allows access to the Leathern Bottle and some houses built nearby the River Thames

So again I took some photos of the old bridge before it got demolished.

Even the graffiti I found
The bridge itself with the wider arch that used to be for the wide gauge rails that the GWR used to run on when first built

Towards the end of the year work started

and huge foam slabs were laid along with sleepers

Then it was all removed. Turns out the work was running late and rather that submit to paying a million pounds a day for over running the demolition was rescheduled

You could see the marks were they had to cut the bridge down to

A year later on Christmas Dan (again) I popped back to see what was going on and found the bridge sections nearby

An excavator was down the bank were the bridge was

No wonder there were bridge sections standing around

The bridge itself was gone and they were removing the spoil from it

All looked very interesting to me

It was a hive of activity though I was spotted taking photos and was taken to the managers office who kindly took me to a place I could get some photos of the work going on the other side

The bridge had stood for over  a hundred years

and in the space of a short time was removed. The two excavators here have wagons on the back and move to the bridge fill them up and back up where they are emptied and then the cycle continuses

They looked like  a lad of insects devouring some remains

a couple of days later it was all gone and the foam was piled back up

All that remained was the stump in the middle and the bridge sides, the rest had gone

All you could see of the old bridge was some neatly cut off brickwork

Looked a little odd seeing the bridge gone

I wondered when the new decks would be installed

Turned out over Easter

As I found out by chance

butthe new decks were in

though it looked a little odd seeing a square arch

The joins looked neat

and there was scaffolding all around it

so the workers need not worry about not being safe

and trains were running

So how did they look finished, well the first one I showed looks like this

The bridge approach had been straightened out and it was wider

The central pillar had gone

and the parapets were steel clad

looking along the track to the second  bridge at the Moreton Cutting you could see that was finished as well

Up at Spring Farm the bridge was finished and looked a lot better
on the approach

The central pillar was retained

and the whole bridge had a nicer look finished in brick

even the joins with the old bridge looked better

where you could see the join between the old and new
Spring Farm after it was finished
There were other bridges which had new decks on at Oxford, Lower Basildon, and Purley which I found out about after but I think the one which caused this last one to take so long was the one that was built in Reading. Watch the Video and you can see why.