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 Post subject: The first rail vertical lift bridge?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2020 6:16 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:28 am
Posts: 416
Location: Ipswich, UK
Just to prove that rail preservation covers a multitude of subjects, a Museum that I am involved with here in the UK is soon to take possession of a "kit of parts" that form what is believed to be the worlds first movable bridge used by rail traffic, first erected in 1832.....

http://heritage-centre.co.uk/in-the-pre ... ft-bridge/

For what is a fairly small museum, funded purely from donations and the operation of a not-for-profit cafe on the site, this is something of a major coup for the centre.
Sadly, all the timberwork was destroyed when it was dismantled at its last location, so that is going to be an expensive part of the restoration work.
A bit more information about the bridge itself is detailed in the section below from the Leicester Industrial Heritage Society..

As the Leicester and Swannington Railway approached the outskirts of Leicester it was faced with a dilemma, the course of the Leicester Navigation (Grand Union Canal). To enable the railway to access the goods yard at West Bridge Robert Stephenson came up with a solution; a lift bridge which allowed narrowboat clearance under when in its raised position.
The bridge was in use from 1832 until the mid-1960’s and was originally designed for horse drawn wagons and therefore did not have to be substantial enough to take the weight of a locomotive. It had gone through a re-build sometime in the mid-19th century and over the year’s repairs and maintenance. With the closure of West Bridge Station in 1966 the bridge was redundant and around 1970 was dismantled for re-erection on the Riverside Walk at the rear of the proposed Museum of Technology for the East Midlands at the Abbey Pumping Station. During the eighteen years it was located on the Riverside Walk it became heavily vandalised and in 1992 it was decided by Leicestershire Museums to dismantle the bridge and re-erect as a ‘gate guardian’ at the new Snibston Discovery Park.
After a 184 years of use and display the bridge was dismantled in early 2016 as a consequence of the contraversial closure and demolition of Snibston Discovery Museum.
Unfortunately in the process of dismantling the timbers were discarded and burnt and only the iron components have been preserved and are in storage with Leicester Museums. Every re-build and restoration of the bridge has always used the previous timbers as a pattern and guide to its construction now those timbers are no longer inexistence has left the bridge’s restoration problematic. As a consequence LIHS has stepped up to the challenge of preparing a set of CAD drawings of the bridge to assist with it potential re-build, finding a new location within the Leicester area and associated project costs. An appeal was put out through LIHS website and local press and has produced many photographs to assist the scaling of the bridge dimensions. In addition Nick Pell, a member of staff at Leicestershire Museums, was present during the dismantling, took copious photographs and marked the iron components which correlate to a master photograph to show positions. As the iron work is now preserved at Leicester Museum these too can be measured to assist with the scale drawings. The triumph, however, came in August when a news item in Waterways World (September 2016) produced an out-of-the-blue telephone call from a retired British Rail surveyor who was based in the Drawing Office at Euston during the 1970's and who saved a 1950’s/60’s drawing of the bridge which was destined for the bin. Armed with the drawing, photograph and iron components the reconstruction of the bridge on paper has become a much easier proposition.

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 Post subject: Re: The first rail vertical lift bridge?
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2020 6:17 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:54 am
Posts: 845
Location: New Franklin, OH
That is definitely an interesting piece of history and that at least the metal bits have been saved. I think it will make and interesting addition once reconstructed. But then I’m always intrigued by old technology. Nice save.

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 Post subject: Re: The first rail vertical lift bridge?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 1:22 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:28 am
Posts: 416
Location: Ipswich, UK
jayrod wrote:
That is definitely an interesting piece of history and that at least the metal bits have been saved. I think it will make and interesting addition once reconstructed. But then I’m always intrigued by old technology. Nice save.


Apart from raising the $$ to pay for the new timberwork (not sure whether any of the local authorities are going to give any money as well as the old "kit of parts") it is going to be a challenge to construct it in what is a fairly restricted site area.
The rail museum is actually in a former granite quarry, so the placing of foundations will be "interesting", as was the case when the rail museum storage/exhibition building was constructed (and subsequently extended). The plan is that it will go at the end of the track spur to the right shown in the photo below...
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...basically where I was standing to take this photo earlier last month...
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As well as being able to run rail vehicles over it, it is hoped that it will actually be possible to enable the bridge to be raised and lowered to demonstrate its operation - something that was not done for its previous re-incarnations - and getting on for 60 years since the last time that was possible.
It's not quite in the same league as those impressive (to me anyway..) metal vertical lift bridges you see from the PATH train from Newark into NYC (or elsewhere in North America, for that matter) , but at least it is the first example of that type!

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 Post subject: Re: The first rail vertical lift bridge?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 9:31 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
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Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Do they have a private open top wagon owned by S. C. Ruffy?


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 Post subject: Re: The first rail vertical lift bridge?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:26 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2015 1:28 am
Posts: 416
Location: Ipswich, UK
JimBoylan wrote:
Do they have a private open top wagon owned by S. C. Ruffy?

No, thankfully, but one of the other preserved lines here certainly had one in the past!
http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/blueb ... /960x.html
My guess is that you would be descended upon by the Thomas brands lawyers if you just painted one up like that for "fun".......

Actually, the open wagons in the Mountsorrel museum "fleet" are not quite what they purport to be, as they are later (late 1930's - early 1950's) vehicles from a variety of sources which are carrying paint jobs from a much earlier era but which relate to the area around the museum - particularly the original quarry owners from the early 20th Century....
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The four vehicles shown in the previous post are used to give switching displays to visitors on selected weekends using the 1956 built Ruston diesel, also shown in that photo.
There is also a 2 foot gauge line which is still under construction which will be used to show how such lines were used in a quarrying environment.

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