From East to West

Cast concrete  BletchleyOne of the great supporting piers at Bletchley. You can see the scale of it from the two men just visible at the top.


Across the middle of North Bucks, the rebuilding of the 1850 railway is steaming ahead. Many local roads have been closed while works are carried out for the East West Rail project.

The project will create a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, much of it on the routes of long closed lines, though there will be a brand new stretch of line on the far side of Bedford.

Often, it seems, the road are closed simply to keep a safe distance between workmen and the general public, but at Bletchley the road is closed while the 2,000 feet long railway flyover is being extensively rebuilt. The flyover was first in use in 1959.

The great piers are remaining, but a huge crane has been lifting the heavy concrete spans away one at a time. The first span was lifted in two parts, as it weighed 295 tonnes.

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Over the Water

Shipton Brook bridge

The Monday Photo

This is where we used to go as kids, to fish for sticklebacks. It’s the bridge that carried the new 1722 turnpike over Shipton Brook, just outside Winslow. On summer days we would paddle around with our jam jars and nets, just here in front of the bridge.

The old turnpike didn’t go through Winslow. The closest it got was East Claydon.

This is the downstream side. On the upstream side, you can still make out the route of the ford, gently sloping towards the brook.

The bridge hasn’t been part of the main road since 1937, when a new bridge was built and the road was straightened.

It wasn’t the first time the road had been altered at Shipton. At the top of the rise, where the road now sweeps round to the left, was a ’T’ junction. Part of the ’T’ junction remains as the first right angle bend in the side road through Shipton.

The two timber framed cottages set back on your right as you drive up the main road were once right against it. Other houses on the other side of the road, and there wasn’t a huge gap between them, were demolished in 1822 when the main road was altered.

Upstream from the bridge, the brook is fed by streams from Mursley, Stewkley Dean, and Hoggeston. Just downstream from here, another stream from the top of Oving hill joins the brook.

From there, the brook heads West, then joins another brook near Padbury. Then the bigger brook flow North and under the ancient bridge at Thornborough.

I still visit the bridge at Shipton brook when I’m passing.


Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Road closed due to floodingEasy to change-over warning signs on the road to Oxlane bridge.

You might have noticed that it’s been raining a bit. While we don’t seem to have it as bad as some areas, the ground has been saturated and Padbury Brook has burst its banks.

At the Medieval bridge at Thornborough, the water on Monday had risen four feet above the level I’d seen in December.

Flooding at Thornborough bridgeThornborough bridge on Monday.

Six arches of Thornborough BridgeThornborough bridge at the beginning of December last year.

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Warmer Days are Ahead

The days are drawing out, and the warmer days are coming. We still have a couple of months to go, but here’s just a few photos to remind us of what to look forward to.

Cublington church  BucksCublington church was built in around 1400 A.D. and has been little altered or expanded since. The village, once further down the hill, had been abandoned for nearly sixty years after the climate changed. The original site had become too wet and muddy to be practical.

The new village grew around the church, which had been partly built with materials from the old one.

Soulbury  BucksBefore the new road was built, going to Aylesbury from Bletchley meant I cut through Soulbury to avoid Leighton Buzzard. At the bottom of the village I would take the right turn that took me into the back of Wing. I took this photo from the field next to the turn, one August.

Soulbury is well known for its stone, a piece of the Peak District left there 450,000 years ago by a retreating glacier.

Shipton Brook bridge  BucksShipton Brook bridge was built just South of Winslow for the new Aylesbury to Buckingham turnpike that opened in 1722. In 1937 a new bridge was built upstream and the bridge was bypassed. I used to come here to play in the 1960s.

The Two thousand Year Old River Crossing

Side arch  Thornborough BridgeThe four side arches are fairly plain. The Roman ford lay beyond the bridge, on the North side.

Medieval Thornborough Bridge is the oldest bridge in the county, but this East to West river crossing is at least 1,200 years older; it dates back to Roman times.

Three Roman roads met and crossed each other here, and by the North side of this six arch medieval bridge over Padbury Brook was a Roman ford, made from limestone blocks held in place with wooden stakes. These were found during excavations in the 1970s.

Also found were three oak pilings on the East bank, and the ends of a road over thirty feet wide on both river banks.

Ribbed arch  Thornborough BridgeTwo of the arches are more ornate, with four chamfered ribs.

One of these roads came North from Akeman Street (the A41) at Fleet Marston near Aylesbury. Part of it is still used as a road, and it was once part of the old turnpike route to Buckingham. After the river crossing it went through modern Akeley and beyond.

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