Saturday, November 21, 2020

Oxford's railway swing bridge to be preserved

Good news this week: the Oxford Preservation Trust has raised £900,000 to preserve the city's Rowley Road railway swing bridge.

You can see the bridge in action in the video above, which was shot in the 1970s, while Derelecition in the Shires explains its genesis and history:

Oxford used to have two railway stations side-by-side, the GWR station served London, Birmingham and the Cotswolds while the neighbouring Rewley Road LMS station served Bicester, Bletchley, Bedford and Cambridge. 
Just north of both stations is the navigable link between the Thames and the Oxford Canal, the picturesquely named Sheepwash Channel. Oxford Rewley Road was at a lower level than the GWR station so to avoid impeding navigation on the Sheepwash Channel its tracks passed over a rather unusual double track swing bridge. 
Rewley Road station closed in the 1950s but its coal yard remained in use into the 1980s so the bridge survived. In the 1990s the Rewley Road site was redeveloped, the Said Business School was built on the station building site and houses were built on the coal yard site. Thus the swing bridge was left intact but marooned in a sea of houses.

Footage of the bridge being operated back in 1950 be found elsewhere on this blog.

For myself, I must have passed it as a very small boy in 1966 as we finished our first family canal holiday at Oxford. I do have several memories from that day, but sadly the bridge is not among them. 

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