Build your own bridge

Need a spe­cific bridge? Chris Leigh shows you how to build one.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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