Build your own bridge
Need a specific bridge? Chris Leigh shows you how to build one.
Almost every stretch of railway had its own obstacles that resulted in a number of key identifying structures – bridges, tunnels and so forth – that you need to model in order to capture the character of the line. Even the West Drayton-staines West branch, which I’m modelling in ‘N’, had a number of overbridges, which I must include in order to recreate key scenes and to get the railway looking right. My layout will include three significant bridges and in true railway fashion I’ve numbered these in ‘route’ order. Bridge No. 1 is the cattle bridge, an accommodation bridge which provides livestock access to the free grazing on Staines Moor. It is a small metal girder span over the railway. Bridge No. 2 is the twin arch bridge which carried the branch over the Wyrardisbury River. This was built of yellow bricks which, reputedly, ended up as hardcore under the M25 when the bridge was demolished. The third bridge is the girder span which carried the branch over the Southern Region line to Windsor. Like much of the branch, this bridge was built for double track, although only one line was ever laid. Bridges Nos. 2 and 3 were demolished in the 1980s, and while bridge No. 1 survives, its surroundings are now so overgrown by large trees that taking photographs would be impossible. I was particularly pleased to find that I had taken a series of good colour prints of the railway part of the cattle bridge when the railway was disused but before it became overgrown. I refer to the ‘railway part’ because the cattle bridge was, in fact, three different bridges joined end-to-end. When the Staines to Windsor railway was built in the 1840s, it seems that the engineers diverted the Wyrardisbury river from its winding course to run in a straight channel beside their railway. Forty years later the line from West Drayton was laid on the opposite river bank, providing two railways and a river to be crossed for access to Staines Moor. Accessing the moor from Moor Lane, over the bridge, one crossed first over the GWR branch by a metal girder span, then the river by a two-arch yellow brick bridge, and finally, the SR lines by a single red brick arch. The narrowness of my shelf arrangement means that I only have space for the metal girder span. Like much else on this layout, it had to be scratchbuilt. Readers may notice another pink brick over-line bridge in the background of some of the photographs. This was built around 1960 to carry the A30 Staines bypass over the line. I’ve always considered it ugly and uninspiring so, as it’s my layout, have simply omitted it.