Rebuilding Railway Bridge

By Paul Sargeant

Photo:Demolition of bridge arch (Click on imaged to enlarge - use arrows and cross at bottom of image to navigate)

Demolition of bridge arch (Click on imaged to enlarge - use arrows and cross at bottom of image to navigate)

Paul Sargeant

Photo:lightened to allow more details to be seen

lightened to allow more details to be seen

Paul Sargeant

I came across these photos when I was looking through my mother's albums recently and I think they are of a bridge in the area.

Photo:Bridge reconstruction

Bridge reconstruction

Paul Sargeant

My father, Henry Sargeant in the forefront of the second photo, worked on the bridge in around 1957 and I assumed it was a bridge being rebuilt for the electrification of the line. Although it went completely electric in 1962 a mixture of diesel, steam and electric trains ran before then so maybe it was raised a year or so later.

This page was added by Paul Sargeant on 17/12/2013.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

Throwing a spanner into the works, has anyone considered the possibility that, in order to keep up with progress, this bridge(s) has been yet again replaced? Traffic flow has increased, commercial vehicle carrying weights have increased massively plus the likelihood of a greater density of buildings in the area.I believe that my question has some validity. Think about that!

By Don Joy ( Smith )
On 12/08/2015

My father worked on raising the bridge for the electrification of the line and going by the comments so far it appears not to be around Laindon.

The two photos look like they were taken at different times of the year and don't appear to be the same bridge, just a coincidence to have two photos in the same album. I feel he wouldn't have travelled too far and might worked on the London, Tilbury line and not for BR.

Feel free to pass on the photos to anybody who wants them.

By Paul Sargeant
On 11/01/2014

I travelled up to Fenchurch Street on the train yesterday and made a point of looking at all the bridges.  Although not conclusive I did not recognise the constructional layout of any of the side arches as being similar to the first picture.  

The inspection access into the side arch on all the bridges I looked at was nearer the centre of the arch and although it is possible that this could have been relocated to comply with Health and safety. I could, in the brief look you get from a moving train, not see signs of an old access nearer the track.

It would be helpful if Paul could inform us if his father worked for BR and travelled to work away at times.

By Ian Mott
On 10/01/2014

In regard to Richard's comment that the men in suits and ties are probably senior engineers from BR and the ECC. Three supervisors to six workers! That sounds about right as I remember it!

By Alan Davies
On 29/12/2013

I have spent time studying the images and I think William is correct in his supposition that the two images are of different bridges.

The bridge being demolished appears to run from high ground on at least one side. There is a straight service pipe running across the opening exposed during the demolition which appears to indicate that the bridge was not a hump style bridge

The second bridge is a hump style bridge that is being replaced in two halves. If you look behind Henry Sargeant you can see the edge beam from the rebuilt section. The lorry which is facing in the same direction as the the photographer is obviously on the replaced section of the bridge.

The second photograph does raise a number of questions is the span adequate for a dual line?

How long would the line need to be closed for the scaffolding to be built and the bridge or half the bridge rebuilt and the line cleared?

The crane lifting the reinforced concrete beam is obviously behind the photographer and on his shaded side as there is no shadow of the jib and lifting gear. Did the railway use rail mounted cranes during the bridge reconstruction?

If the bridge work was completed in two sessions over a couple of days as I suspect, I would suggest that the photograph was taken early in the day which would confirm that we are looking in a northerly direction. If however the work was completed in one session which would indicate that it was later in the day and we could be looking in an easterly or southerly direction.

By Ian Mott
On 29/12/2013

Clearly to answer Nina’s questions, the lorry is parked on the approach to the bridge on its original roadway. The bushes in the background are lining the edge of the old road on the opposite side.

The bridge in the first photo has been demolished under a railway possession, usually these last only hours until the rubble has been cleared and trains can start running again.

The people in suits and ties are engineers, probably senior ones from BR. If this is in Essex one of them may be from the County Surveyor's or ECC Highways department from Chelmsford.

There is an overbridge some way east of Upminster which may be the one in question. I might look at it when I am next down that way.

I wonder if Henry's waistcoat has a yellow high vis front to it?’

By Richard Haines
On 29/12/2013

We took a ride towards Upminster and stopped to take some photos of Warley Bridge (the one I was thinking of).  We’ve noticed it does have many similarities to the bridge in Paul’s photo but it’s very difficult to say with 100% certainly that it is the same one.

The second photo is rather puzzling and raises a few questions.  If that is a bridge across a railway that’s being worked on, what is the lorry on the left parked on and there appears to be a hedge running the length of the bridge?  Very curious and intriguing.

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 27/12/2013

Further to this saga in respect of the bridge. I have received e-mails from a Mr. Peter Kay who has published six books on the history of the LT&S and could arguably considered the foremost researcher on the subject. He has stated that while records of the GER were very good. Those of the LT&S were not so. He states that in the absence of location, these photos could have been taken anywhere in the country, but if sure they were taken on the area of line suggested the Warley Rd. bridge would have fitted the scenario more so than others.

By W.H.Diment
On 26/12/2013

If you look carefully behind the two supervisors and over the cement mixer there appears to be a stepped wall higher on the right and lower on the left.

I will try and enhance the photograph to see if I can make out what it is.

By Ian Mott
On 25/12/2013

Continuing which so far has been an unsuccessful attempt to identify the location(s) of the bridge(s).  I am becoming more and more inclined to believe that these are two separate locations.

Nina suggests Upminster, yet this is quite definitely not the bridge at Upminster Station which is in an urban area with many lines including the LTE, nor could it be the bridge at the eastern end of the LTE depot which is in a residential area and also has a high embankment on the southern side.

I am sending the photos to Mike Stanbury of the GER Society in the hope that some of the members can give a definitive answer to this problem.

Meantime I am becoming more and more convinced that the rebuilding of the bridge was that at the Alma factory at Great Warley given the rural aspect and that the other photo was possibly an occupation bridge somewhere.

Hoping more information will be forthcoming.

By W.H.Diment
On 25/12/2013

Look at the total disregard for health and safety, no hard hats even though the beams are right above their heads, typical 1960s.

By Richard Haines
On 25/12/2013

I look forward to learning where the photographs were taken when confirmation is received, but in the meantime I think it could be the road bridge over the railway track at Upminster.    

By Nina Humphrey(née Burton)
On 24/12/2013

These photos have taken over part of my mind and I cannot move them as they raise queries.

Firstly can we be absolutely sure the two photos are of the same location as the amount of shrubbery shown in the second photo is not apparent in the first and also the telegraph pole in the top right hand corner indicates that it is the roadside. 

The GHR Society state that the necessary alterations in the Basildon area were carried out by the Basildon New Town Authority and that they and the East Anglian Railway Museum have no records of these, but a road bridge at Great Warley (presumably the Alma Factory bridge) was raised.  Perhaps Paul Sargeant may be able to cast some light upon this by saying if his father worked for British Railways or the Basildon Development Corporation.

PS. Are these photos copyright as I was considering sending them to the GER Society?

Editor: These are Paul's personal photographs but I am sure that he would be very interested in finding out where they were taken.

The second is the replacement of the roadway over the railway, the works lorry can be seen behind the temporary fence.

By W.H.Diment
On 24/12/2013

I must confess to being totally at a loss to place an accurate location for this bridge.  The topography of the area with the landscape descending into a undeveloped area does not correspond to the railway east of Pitsea, similarly, once past the Lower Dunton Rd. travelling west there is no falling gradient as shown in the photos.

One thought which just entered my head is that has it been confirmed this was taken on the via Upminster section of the LT&S?                 

By W.H.Diment
On 21/12/2013

The reason why I thought the bridge was around Laindon was when I was around 8 or 9 my brother and I took my father's lunch to him at Laindon station. He worked on the bridge that I know, so maybe the two are not connected.

Editor: Paul, this is one of the aims of the site and we all enjoy the challenge

By Paul Sargeant
On 21/12/2013

I have lightened the image one slightly and agree with William that it is not the station bridge at Pitsea. I have been trying to think of all the bridges on the LTS line in the rural section and can not visualise any that fit.

There were to the best of my knowledge eight over bridges up to Upminster and four to Pitsea. Beyond Pitsea there was the station bridge at Leigh and then nothing until the cutting before Southend.

It is difficult now with the electric rolling stock to get a good view of the bridges as the trains have sealed windows and and tend to be travelling faster.

By Ian Mott
On 21/12/2013

While accepting Ian's remarks that this bridge was not in the Dunton area, I am equally convinced that this was not the station bridge at Pitsea station which was some 30 ft above rail level and the station approach and the bank on the north of the station a similar height and I cannot remember any surfaced road in the area apart from the Station Lane leading to Pitsea High St.  The railway to the east of the station was not sufficiently elevated for such a picture. Also  in  it does not appear to be the bridge at Staceys corner to the west of Pitsea, which was I believe also banked on either side as I seem to remember a report of a P/Way inspector, a Mr.Nunn of Pitsea who had moved up the bank for the passing of a train, but slipped and fell and was killed.  The bridge presents yet another mystery to be solved by the researchers.  

By W.H.Diment
On 20/12/2013

Looking at the first photograph the only bridge i can thing of in the local area would be the bridge over the line at Pitsea Station, all the others having banking on both sides.

I can not think of any of our local bridges crossing the railway where there would have been that number of phone lines down the road. 

By Ian Mott
On 19/12/2013

Further to my earlier comment, further examination of photo 2 suggests this was in fact a rebuilding of the bridge, not the removal, as the suspended joist does not appear to be an RSJ, but a precast post stressed concrete joist with the high tensile stressing cable running lengthwise through the beam.  This type of beam only appeared in post war years.

By W.Diment
On 19/12/2013

Two more brilliant pictures in respect of the history of our railway in a matter of a few days although is this in fact a rebuilding or the removal of the bridge?

 The second picture shows the site to be elevated and the background to be sparsely occupied as regards housing as far as the eye can see. I suggest this was taken on Dunton Bank looking to the west as I cannot remember any other  section of the line as high as this and that the telegraph poles may have been on the Lower Dunton Rd.   Perhaps some of the ex plotlanders have abetter memory of the area.

By W.H.Diment
On 18/12/2013