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Battersea Railway Bridge

Cremorne Bridge

Battersea Railway Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: May 9, 2018

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (London Overground, West London Line) Over River Thames
Location
London: Greater London, England: United Kingdom
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1863 By Builder/Contractor: Brassey and Ogilvie of London, England and Engineer/Design: William Baker

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1992
Main Span Length
140 Feet (42.7 Meters)
Structure Length
755 Feet (230.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
5 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is an early example of a metal arch bridge built largely from wrought iron rather than cast iron. The arch ribs are riveted design and are an early representation of the typical form that metal arches would assume following the abandonment of cast iron as a bridge building material. This bridge does feature cast iron spandrel bracing in the fascia rib, which provides architectural value to the bridge. The interior is braced with either wrought iron or modern steel, and it is these interior areas where alterations and strengthening of the bridge appear to have taken place.

Official Heritage Listing Information and Findings

Listed At: Grade II*

Discussion:

List Entry Number: 1393005

Reasons for Designation
The Cremorne Bridge was opened in 1863 as part of the West London Extension Railway and is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* It is extremely significant as a bridge with arches constructed largely of wrought iron. * Its completeness is of particular note which, together with its visually attractive design, makes the bridge of more than special architectural interest. * It is also of more than special historic interest as one of the earliest Thames rail crossings and the most complete of the six new rail bridges which were constructed in the 1860s. * Built to link four well-established routes and the first north-south railway line in London, it is a structure which epitomises this important phase of railway history. * It also has group value with the Battersea Bridge of 1890 downstream (Grade II) and the Wandsworth Bridge of 1940 upstream (recommended Grade II).

Railway Bridge, 1863, by William Baker, Chief Engineer of the London and North Western Railway Company, and T H Bertram of the Great Western Railway and opened on 2 March 1863. The contractors were Brassey and Ogilvie. Minor later alterations and repairs.

DESCRIPTION: The Cremorne Bridge is a five-span wrought-iron arch bridge flanked by six brick arches on both the Middlesex and Surrey shores. The five river spans are each 43.9m, and the total length of the structure is 387.1m. The spans are carried on riveted wrought-iron arched ribs arranged in pairs and joined by lattice spandrel members to the deck girders, the whole forming a series of light segmental arches. There are six ribs to each span, in three pairs, with the inner ribs cross-braced under either track. The latter may have had some replacing and strengthening in steel in the C20 but the upper and lower chords and spandrel members of the arches are fabricated wholly of wrought iron. The river piers are constructed of brick faced with Bramley Fall stone ashlar on concrete foundations; these piers are carried up in ashlar with roll-moulded cornices at parapet level. The abutment piers of the river bridge are also ashlar. The parapets, which are topped by wrought iron lattice railings, have recently been refaced as part of a general programme of repairs.

HISTORY: The Cremorne Bridge takes the form of a viaduct that carries both standard and the broad gauge railway tracks needed for Great Western railway stock. The opening of Cremorne Bridge led to an increase in freight traffic but passenger services did not commence until 1904. The purpose of the bridge was to connect the main northbound lines out of Paddington and Euston with the southbound lines from Waterloo, Victoria and Clapham Junction through the West London Extension Railway, an enterprise jointly owned by the London and North Western Railway and the Great Western Railway (one-third each), and the London and South Western Railway and the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (one-sixth each). The West London Railway Extension was built to connect the GWR with the Channel Ports via railways on the south side of the Thames such as the South Eastern Railway.

This is one of the earliest railway bridges to cross the Thames, and among the earliest surviving examples. The initial phase of railway expansion in the 1840s and 1850s had little impact on the Thames, in part because a parliamentary prohibition on surface railways in central London. The ban was lifted in 1846 but by this time the distinctive ring of railway termini around central London had been built and there was little financial incentive for companies to link the north and south banks. The first railway crossings were therefore built in outlying districts: the first, Barnes, was complete by 1848 (listed Grade II) and Richmond followed not long after. The fast pace of development south of the river after 1860 led to six further bridges of which the Cremorne Bridge is one of the earliest that survives in its original form; the bridge has been little altered since 1863, although there have been repairs made following incidents of vessels colliding with the bridge in the early 1990s and in 2003. Of the other bridges, only the southern abutment to the former West Blackfriars and St Paul's railway bridge is listed.

The name Cremorne (the bridge is also known as Battersea Railway Bridge) refers to the former Cremorne pleasure gardens which once occupied the site of the Lots Road Power Station. The gardens closed in 1877.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: * As a bridge with arches constructed largely of wrought iron, the Cremorne Bridge is extremely significant; its completeness is of particular note and for this, and its visually attractive design, the bridge is of more than special architectural interest. * It is also of more than special historic interest as one of the earliest Thames rail crossings and the most complete of the six new rail bridges which were constructed in the 1860s. * Built to link four well-established routes and the first north-south railway line in London, it is a structure which epitomises this important phase of railway history. * It also has group value with the Battersea Bridge of 1890 downstream (Grade II) and the Wandsworth Bridge of 1940 upstream.

SOURCES: G Phillips, 'Thames Crossings' (1981),190-1. A A Jackson, 'London Termini' (1969), 221 and 290. C Awdry, 'Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies' (1990), 242. E T Macdermot, 'History of the Great Western Railway',Vol I (1964), 231-3. Jack Simmons and Gordon Biddle, eds, The Oxford Companion to British Railway History (OUP, 1999).

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