Maidenhead Railway Bridge
Maidenhead Railway Bridge (aka Maidenhead Viaduct) is a railway bridge carrying the main line of the Great Western Railway over the River Thames between Maidenhead, Berkshire and Taplow, Buckinghamshire, England. It crosses the Thames on the reach between Bray Lock and Boulter's Lock The bridge was designed by the Great Western's famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and it was completed in 1838, but not brought into use until 1 July 1839. The railway is carried across the river on two brick arches, which at the time of building were the widest and flattest in the world. Each span is 128 feet (39 m), with a rise of only 24 feet (7 m). The flatness of the arches was necessary to avoid putting a "hump" in the bridge, which would have gone against Brunel's obsession with flat, gentle gradients (1 in 1,320 on this stretch). The Thames towpath passes under the right-hand arch (facing upstream), which is also known as the Sounding Arch, because of its spectacular echo. It has been claimed that the board of the Great Western Railway did not believe that the arches would stay up under the weight of the trains and ordered Brunel to leave the wooden formwork used to construct the arches in place. However, Brunel simply lowered the formwork slightly so that it had no structural effect, but appeared to be in place. Later, when the formwork was washed away in floods, but the bridge remained, the strength of the arches was accepted. As built, Maidenhead Railway Bridge carried two lines of Brunel's broad gauge track. Subsequently the bridge has been widened, and now carries the four lines of standard gauge track that make up the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington Station. Maidenhead Railway Bridge features in Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway, painted by Turner in 1844 and now in the National Gallery, London

Crossrail Modifications
The forthcoming Crossrail development shall see the long-delayed overhead electrification of the Great Western line between Paddington and Maidenhead or Reading. This construction work had been set to require a temporary construction depot to be created immediately next to the bridge in Guards Club Park on the Berkshire side of the bridge, but this decision has subsequently been reversed, though the Bridge itself will obviously still undergo some changes in order to accommodate the Overhead line equipment. The latest Crossrail Environmental Statement states: "The OHLE (Overhead Line Equipment) requires that supporting posts be founded on the bridge structure. These will be positioned so as not to disrupt the symmetry of the bridge. Three sets of masts will be fixed at the bridge supports and a further two sets will be fixed at the far ends of the bridge. The masts will be fixed such that they may be removed in the future without damaging the bridge as it stands today." The report also states: It is proposed that the OHLE over Maidenhead railway bridge will use masts with wires suspended from cantilevers, since these will be visually lighter structures than the gantries to be used along other parts of the route. The masts will however, have a significant adverse landscape impact: they will affect important views along the river and the character of the river corridor; they will affect the setting of the Riverside Conservation Area; and they will affect the setting of the listed railway bridge and the setting of the adjacent Grade I listed road bridge. The possibility of using third rail electrification on the bridge was considered but rejected.

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via