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Mind the Gap

Bridge Out

Old railway bridge with farm trackThe brickwork looks to be in good condition, though the retaining wall on the approach needs attention. Beyond the bridge will be the cutting for the HS2 line.

There are quite a few nice old railway bridges in North Bucks, but it looks like the Highways Agency want to demolish this one, though it was in quite good condition when I visited it this week.

This bridge is nearly 125 years old, a part of our railway heritage and a local landmark on a footpath near Twyford Mill.

When HS2 is completed it will be about 120 feet from the edge of the cutting. The existing farm track will be carried over the cutting on a new bridge.


From the Government’s plans and what a local dog walker told me, this original bridge will be demolished; instead there will just be a ramp up to the new one. I believe there's enough room to keep this bridge and make it part of the ramp to the new one.

I see there’s another bridge that will be lost, too, about a quarter of a mile to the South East. But I didn’t realise until I came home again.

Brickwork on old railway bridgeThe brickwork on the North West face needs repointing, and a brick is missing from a corner (upper middle of the photo); it’s one of only a few needing replacement.

The bridge is just one of 15 disused railway structures the Highways Agency want to demolish across mainland Britain. There’s another 115 that they want to infill by packing the arches with aggregate and concrete.

They’ve already infilled at least one bridge, at Great Musgrave in Cumbria. It only had “a handful of minor defects”, said The Construction Index in November. They also said that Highway England are still awarding contracts, though they’ve been told by ministers to pause their demolition and infilling programme.

This is the only North Buckinghamshire bridge affected in the plans so far. But if Highways England are successful in this scheme they will no doubt expand it, blighting many more bridges and other historic railway structures across Britain.

This bridge was built to take a farm track over the Quainton Road to Brackley section of the Grand Central Railway, in about 1897. The Quainton Road station is now the home of the Bucks Railway Centre.

Although one of the approach ramp retaining walls needs attention, the bridge seems pretty good; for the most part it just needs repointing and a few bricks replacing. It certainly doesn’t need demolishing.

If you would like to know more about Highways England’s plans including some of the infilling work at Great Musgrave, please watch the video below.

Thanks to the Paul and Rebecca Whitewick YouTube channel for allowing me to embed this video. It's a great channel if you like railway and canal history, and especially if you like tunnels.

To see if there’s a structure at risk near you, here's a map of threatened railway structures in mainland Britain.If you find you are against these plans, please sign the petition.

Meanwhile, the HRE Group views the 3,100 historic structures of the Historical Railways Estate as being a strategic asset, while Highways England view them as nothing but a liability.

Bridge over disused railway line  Twyford  BucksThe South East face of the bridge.

Bat box in old railway bridge  TwyfordThe bridge carried the track over the line at a slight angle; you can see this in the arch brickwork, which looks in good condition. On the vertical wall is a bat box, one of two I found at the bridge.


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