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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 40 - Spring 1980
A Tale of Two Bridges - Frank Boait
At 8 am on Saturday, 13th October 1979, a group of about nine lads (and one lady), a crane and three lorries were down at Lewisham moving a footbridge - the culmination of three weekends planning and preparation and much correspondence between Roy Miller, Frank Boait and the Lewisham Borough Surveyor.
The story began with British Rail suggesting that major repairs would be necessary to our footbridge. Various remedies were suggested - including repairs to the existing bridge, or the purchase of a replacement. At this point Roy Miller spotted a small ad placed by Lewisham Borough Council, offering for disposal a pedestrian footbridge which had been built by the East London Railway to cross a BR closed five track railway running from New Cross to Surrey Docks and consisting of two spans on cast iron columns.
After inspection, it was decided that this bridge would be a viable alternative to the existing footbridge at Quainton, or as an additional bridge to improve access further up the site.
A visit was made to Lewisham with a representative of Masters' crane hire and it was decided that a 25-ton crane would be necessary to complete the lift. The following Saturday a working party spent the day removing and replacing every bolt, to ensure that dismantling would be straightforward, and digging out the bases of the columns, to ensure easy access to the fixing bolts.
The third and final Saturday saw the fruits of a well planned operation, with a tricky lift being accomplished fairly smoothly. The bridge was parallel to, and only four feet away from, the brick viaduct carrying the main North Kent Railway line - as can be seen on the photograph of the lift.
After this the rest of the dismantling was fairly simple, loading the remaining sections of the bridge onto the other two lorries and transferring them to Quainton Road, where they were unloaded on the Sunday morning in the Up Yard behind Mr. Evans coal.
At Quainton, further consideration of the access problem between the two yards led to the decision that the most economical solution was to remove and repair the existing Metropolitan Bridge ourselves - and keep the Lewisham Bridge for a possible new 'south' crossing.
BR approved Roy's drawing of the repair and work commenced on Saturday, 19th January. The day was spent removing some timbers of the decking for the crane slings and breaking out the concrete round the ends of the steelwork to gain access to the fixing bolts.
Other members of the gang also disconnected the electrical and telephone cables crossing the footbridge and also prepared the trestles which are to support the bridge during its repair.
The BR Engineer and Flagman arrived at 8 am the next day and informed us that we had possession of the BR line.
Sleepers were then laid up to and between the rails to provide access for the crane which drove up to the bridge between the two platforms. Once in position, slings were attached and each end lifted free carefully before the whole bridge was transferred to the platform, near the bookstall, in a series of lifts. BR's temporary trestle support was lifted onto the Up platform and dismantled, with a little help from the crane, which then drove back to the Down Yard. The track was cleared and possession was handed back to BR by 1.30 pm - a good morning's work!
Work on the span commenced immediately, with all decking removed and some of the rivets being burnt out.
Completion of the repair and replacement of the bridge is scheduled for 30th March - in time for the Easter 'rush hour' traffic!
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 17 November 2017