Ramsden Bellhouse railway bridge replaced in a weekend.

Isobel Johnson Collection

On the weekend of 22nd March 1997, Railtrack removed and replaced the 108 year old railway bridge crossing Church Road in Ramsden Bellhouse, which carries lines for London-Southend trains. Work had started earlier in the year by clearing and laying a base in a field 300 yards north of the Fox and Hounds pub. Engineers built the new bridge on the base, ready for the move. Workmen laboured to remove bushes and overhanging branches that might obstruct the moving bridge.

Some villagers living very close to the bridge were moved out for the weekend to stay at a local hotel as the guests of Railtrack.  Trains stopped at Shenfield and then buses took them onto Southend. It was estimated this would add an hour to their journey. It would cause chaos if the trains could not run for the Monday rush hour.

It was not just the trains that were disrupted. Church Road was closed for the weekend so alternative routes had to be found to get from one end of the village to the other.
The following series of photos tells the story of this magnificent feat of engineering.

The first passenger train crossed the old bridge 1st January 1889

Last passenger train crossed the old bridge 21st March 1997

The first passenger train crossed the new bridge 24th March 1997

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