The Anonymous Widower

Three Bridges

If you read Rolt’s biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, you get the impression that the engineer was not a totally serious man without any sense of whimsy or humour.

A few weeks ago I read something about his last design, the unique Three Bridges, which arranges a road above a canal, above a railway. So I just had to visit.

Unfortunately, you can’t take photographs from the railway, but you almost get the impression, that Brunel intended to leave behind something by which he would be remembered. This Google Map shows the layout.

Three Bridges And Hanwell Locks

Three Bridges And Hanwell Locks

The railway is the freight only Brentford Branch Line.

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment


On my trip to Scotland, I spent two nights in the Premier Inn in Stirling, which unlike many budget hotels is close to the station. Access between Stirling station and the hotel was over the impressive Forthside bridge.

As Stirling has frequent trains to both Edinburgh and Glasgow and myriad places in between, the city could be an convenient place to stay depending on where you want to visit.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Two Solutions To Make Crossing A Railway Safe

On the way to football tonight in Ipswich, I went to have a drink with a friend, who lives near Thurston station on the Ipswich to Ely Line, where there is a good real ale and cyder pub. Crossing the tracks at Thurston is via a simple walk across controlled by traffic lights between the two platforms.

Of all the stations I use regularly, this is the only place where such a system is in use. Unless of course you count the trams at Ampere Road by the Croydon Ikea. A few hundred metres to the west of the station a bridle way and cycle path crosses the railway and Network Rail have built this bridge.

There have been reports like this one in the East Anglian Daily Times, which has a headline of Poll: £1.5m ‘monster’ railway bridge at Thurston is dubbed a ‘total waste of money’

This bridge is an interesting case of what to do where there are gated crossings of railway lines.

I think before being too critical of Network Rail we should bare these points in mind.

1. Suicide

This article on the BBC web site talks of a death at a crossing in the Thurston area.  Network Rail get far too many deaths on the railway and it is a sad fact, that stepping in front of a train, is a common method of suicide.

2. The East-West Rail Link

The East-West Rail Link will use this line to get from Ipswich and Felixstowe to Cambridge and Ely. This link will be an electrified 100 mph railway that will run trains between East Anglia and the Midlands and the West. So although the line carries perhaps a couple of trains every hour each way, in perhaps ten years time, this will probably be a few times more. And as the line is pretty straight as the pictures show, the operating speed could be a lot higher.

3, Horses

If you read all the comments about the bridge no-one mentions taking a horse over the railway.

Horses are flight animals and if spooked will run fast away from the perceived danger.

Many horses too, don’t like going under high-voltage cables. Whether it is because they can sense the magnetic field generated by the electricity or they don’t like the whistling sound,I don’t know. But if the crossing is going to be used by horses, it will have to be of the size it has been built.

I’m not sure, but I think this is the only way to get a horse from one side of the railway to the other, unless you go all the way and go under the bridge by Thurlow station.

4. Getting The Design Right

This bridge illustrates that getting the design right and satisfying all users and critics who never use the bridge is an almost impossible task.

Aesthetically, I don’t like the bridge, but unless they dig a subway under the railway, there is nothing else that can be done to satisfy all users and critics of the design.

Note that when the railway is upgraded to be part of the East-West Rail Link, Thurston station will have to be rebuilt and I suspect it will have a bridge over the railway, probably with lifts and a price tag well upwards of £2million.

There will be some serious discussions.

August 11, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge across the Vitava River is rightly famous.

It was extremely busy, as the pictures show.

June 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Golden Jubilee Bridges In The Sun

I walked across the Thames on the  the Golden Jubilee Bridges today in the sun.

I think it’s one of the first times, I walked across the upstream bridge on the House of Commons side.

I like this pair of bridges and to me, they are much better than the wobbly bridge.

They also don’t wobble!

May 13, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Deptford Creek Lift Bridge

You don’t see many lift bridges these days and until a few days ago, I hadn’t realised that this one was there on the Greenwich Rail Line over Deptford Creek.

This report in East London Lines gives details on the current state of the bridge. This is an extract.

The bridge has not been used in several decades and the lifting section was welded shut into ‘down’ position over 10 years ago.

Locally the bridge is a popular sight as well a visual reminder of Deptford’s industrial heritage. The rumours did not go down well with some residents.

The rumours were about demolishing the bridge.

I doubt that will happen.

According to Wikipedia this area was the site of the Battle of Deptford Bridge, which was the last battle of the Cornish Rebellion of 1497.

May 12, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

The Bridges At Blackfriars

There are actually three bridges at Blackfriars; a road bridge, a rail bridge with a station on top and between them the remains of an older rail bridge. This Google Earth image shows the three bridges.

Blackfriars Bridges

Blackfriars Bridges

From the East or right, they are in order.

1. This is the newer Blackfriars railway bridge, with its station, covered in a solar room, on top.

2. The pairs of dots beside the station are the columns of the older Blackfriars railway bridge, which has been demolished.

3. This is the Blackfriars Bridge.

These pictures were taken as I walked past the bridges from east to west.

Note how the two bridges in use are impressive structures.

I’ve often thought that the redundant piers must have a sensible use. But what?


May 7, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Dancing With Cranes And A Bridge With Help From Lego

I just had to put a link to this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Scarborough Bridge – Monte Carlo Or Bust.

It describes how the bridge that takes the York Scarborough railway line over the River Ouse in the medieval heart of York, was replaced over the half-term weekend in February, at a cost of six million pounds. This Google Earth image shows the centre of York.



The bridge is the one at the left of the image, with the station below it.

It was choreographed to an amazing degree and used three enormous mobile cranes squeezed into the car park by the bridge on the north bank of the river. Luckily the wind and the weather were kind and the project was completed on time. Perhaps, the most strange aspect of the project is told in this paragraph.

And then we should take our hats off to team member Eamon McAuley who literally built the bridge single-handed…albeit in Lego. It was remarkably detailed – including the track layout and little orange men with chainsaws – and could be deconstructed and rebuilt to follow the lifting sequence. Sitting as a centrepiece in the conference room, it proved more useful than a PowerPoint when explaining the challenges to visitors and stakeholders.

Anybody who said engineering isn’t fun, should hang their head in shame.

March 31, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Bridges Of Berwick-upon-Tweed

I took these pictures as my train from Edinburgh to Newcastle crossed the border into England on the Royal Border Bridge.

The main bridge in the picture is the Royal Tweed Bridge with Berwick Bridge behind.

This Google Earth image shows the three major bridges in the area and Berwick-upon-Tweed station above the town.



Note how you can make out the arches of the railway viaduct in the image.

March 13, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Work Starts On The Bridge At Highbury Corner

I walked past Highbury and Islington station this morning and it appears that work is starting on replacing the bridge.

The crossing has been moved away from the station, but the old Post Office hasn’t been demolished yet.

February 1, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments


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