Severn Railway Bridge

Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Co.
For canal icons used below, please refer to waterways legend instead. Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway

Mitcheldean Road Ross and Monmouth Railway

Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway Lydbrook Junction

MR&FDJR

Drybrook Halt

Nailbridge Halt Lower Lydbrook

Steam Mills Crossing Halt Upper Lydbrook

Churchway Colliery Bilson Platform

Whimsey Halt Mineral loop

Cinderford (1878-1900) Drybrook Road

Coleford Railway

Serridge Platform

Cinderford (1900-1967) Wimberry Quarry

Whitecliff Quarry

Speech House Road

Bilson Halt Bicslade Tramroad

Ruspidge Halt Bicslade Wharf

Staple Edge Halt Coleford (CR)

Upper Soudley Halt Coleford (S&WR)

Bullo Cross Halt Coleford Junction Halt

Gloucester to Newport Line Milkwall

Newnham Parkhill Colliery

Ruddle Road Halt New Fancy Colliery

Howbeach Colliery Parkend

Forest of Dean Central Railway Whitecroft

Awre for Blakeney Mineral loop

Norchard

River Severn Middle Forge Junction

Lydney Town

Severn Railway Bridge Severn Bridge

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal St Mary's Halt

Sharpness Lydney Junction

Sharpness Docks Lydney

Sharpness Branch Line Upper Forge

Lydney Harbour Pidcock's Canal

Lydney Canal Lower Forge

Gloucester to Newport Line

River Severn Severn Bridge Railway
For canal icons used below, please refer to waterways legend instead. Dean Forest Railway

Severn Bridge Tunnel Lydney Town

Severn Bridge St Mary's Halt

Lydney Junction

Lydney

Gloucester to Newport Line (From Newport to Gloucester)

Lydney Harbour Branch Pidcock's Canal

Forges

Lydney Canal Lower Docks

Upper Docks

Severn Railway Bridge over River Severn (Dismantled 1970)

Swing bridge over Gloucester and Sharpness Canal

Locks onto River Severn

B4066

New Docks Branch

Sharpness Docks



Locks onto River Severn

Old Docks Branch River Severn

Sharpness

Cross Country Route (To Gloucester) Berkeley



Berkeley Road (Closed 1965)

Berkeley Loop

The Severn Railway Bridge was a crossing across the River Severn between Sharpness to Lydney, Gloucestershire. It was badly damaged in an accident involving river barges in 1960 and demolished in 1970.

Construction
It was built by the Severn Bridge Railway company in the 1870s to transport coal from the Forest of Dean on the Severn and Wye Railway. Work began in 1875 and was completed in 1879. The cast iron bridge, which was 4,162 feet (1,269 m) long and 70 feet (21 m) above high water, had 22 spans and had stone abutments made from local limestone. The span across the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal operated as a swing bridge.

History
The bridge was single-track, and it took approximately 30 miles (48 km) off the journey through Gloucester. The bridge predated the construction of the Severn Tunnel, a dozen miles or so downstream, by seven years. It was known by locals as 'The White Elephant'. Until the Severn Road Bridge was opened in 1966, the Severn Railway Bridge was often referred to as the Severn Bridge. There was a small station known as Severn Bridge station on the Lydney side, adjacent to the main line from Gloucester to Chepstow which the railway from the bridge crossed. . The bridge was used as a diversionary route for the Severn Tunnel when this was closed for engineering work. The east-to-north curves at Westerleigh junction used for this route were closed when the bridge was abandoned. This was also the case for the south-to-west curve at Berkeley Road. In Spring 1943 a flight of three Spitfires was being delivered by ATA pilots, including one woman, Ann Wood, from their Castle Bromwich factory to Whitchurch. As it was low tide, the lead pilot Johnnie Jordan decided to fly under the bridge. Some time later, Ann Wood repeated this underflying - without realising that this time it was high tide and there was 30 ft less headroom. This was not the only instance of pilots buzzing the bridge; it was seemingly so common at one time that a local policeman was tasked with recording serial numbers.

Accident
On 25 October 1960, there was thick fog and a strong tide; two barges carrying petroleum (the Arkendale H and the Wastdale H) overshot Sharpness Dock, were carried upstream and collided with one of the columns of the bridge. Two spans of the twenty-two span steel and cast iron bridge collapsed. Part of the structure hit the barges, setting fire to them. Five people died in the incident. In February 1961 a further span collapsed. The Western Region of British Rail planned to reconstruct the bridge but after further damage to the bridge in 1961, it considered the bridge to be damaged beyond economic repair. Following the accident, schoolchildren who had used the bridge daily had to be taken to school on a 40-mile detour via Gloucester.

Demolition
Demolition began in 1967 and took until 1970 for completion, although evidence of several of the piers remains. Most notable is that between the canal and river, a large circular pier that formed the base of the swinging section. Some piers are mere foundations, only visible at low tide, as are the wrecks of the petrol barges. The river at this point has always had hazardous tidal currents, which is what led to the two petroleum barges getting out of control before the collision. A demolition support vessel, the Severn King which was one of the old Aust Ferry boats replaced when the Severn Road Bridge had opened, broke its mooring in the tide, struck the remains of the bridge, and was also sunk.

Cross Country Route (To Bristol)

Media

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