Kidderminster Footbridge

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GWRGreat Western Railway 5029 "Nunney Castle" approaches Kidderminster under the footbridge
Kidderminster footbridge, looking towards Kidderminster station

Trains approaching Kidderminster station can be seen coming into view beneath Kidderminster Footbridge. The footbridge carries a public right of way between Hoo Road (near Kidderminster Harriers Football Club) and Chester Road South, crossing over both the SVRSevern Valley Railway lines and the adjacent Kidderminster to Hartlebury main line. There is no direct access between the footbridge and the SVRSevern Valley Railway. The bridge also carries a high voltage power cable.

The Network Rail plaque identifies it as Bridge 104, situated at 135 miles 22 chainsAs a unit of measurement, 22 yards or 1/80th of a mile. It is also described by NRNetwork Rail as 'OWWOxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway Footbridge 104', OWWOxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway being the engineer's line reference and the line's Oxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway origin. It has not been allocated a number in the SVRSevern Valley Railway's List of infrastructure. Similar plaques from the BRBritish Rail or British Railways era can still be seen on Worcester Road Bridge (Bridge 2) and Falling Sands Viaduct (Bridge 3).

A footbridge has existed at this location since it replaced a level crossing in the 19th century. Earlier bridges were of wooden construction, hence the current bridge is still sometimes referred to locally as 'the wooden bridge'.[1]

Peter Fursdon, a former footplateman at Kidderminster Shed in the 1950s, recalled it as being called the 'Black Bridge'.[2]

In the second photograph, the two lines to the left lead to the platforms at Kidderminster. To the right is the line leading to the connection to the main line and to the Carriage Repair Works. Beyond the fence is the Network Rail main line from Hartlebury to Kidderminster, originally part of the OW&WOxford Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway.

When the SVRSevern Valley Railway first extended to Kidderminster in July 1984, SVR(H) bought from BRBritish Rail or British Railways the last section of the line to Kidderminster from the old boundary at Stourport Road Bridge, but at that stage had only leased the former Comberton Hill Goods Yard on which the station was built. The footbridge marked the boundary between the areas that the SVRSevern Valley Railway owned and leased[3].

Extension and replacement

Following the successful extension to Kidderminster, an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was submitted on 30 April 1997, titled the ‘SVRSevern Valley Railway Heritage Project’ for the Kidderminster Carriage Shed and other items. This included an extension to the footbridge to allow better road and pedestrian access to the site. The HLFHeritage Lottery Fund (National Lottery Heritage Fund from 2019) requested a scaled-down application, and although the extension was still included it was ultimately dropped.[4]

In 2000 the SVRSevern Valley Railway raised further funds for that project, sufficient to allow SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) to announce at the 2000 AGM that the extension to the footbridge would go ahead. However, the 2000 boiler crisis led to these plans being put on hold.[5]

Long-mooted plans by Network Rail to replace the footbridge received financial approval in 2021, with works programmed from December until March 2022. The proposed design will be a single-span constructed in ‘weathering steel’ with new abutments at each end. All traces of the existing bridge will disappear including the central brick pier.[6] The SVRSevern Valley Railway's aspiration to extend the bridge to give access from the station to the turntable will remain an aspiration, due to a lack of funds.

References

  1. SVRSevern Valley Railway Souvenir Guide
  2. Fursdon, Peter, 'My Railway Journey', SVRSevern Valley Railway News 215, Autumn 2021, p. 52
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 72
  4. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 128-129
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 133, 134
  6. Branch Lines, September 2021

See also

Kidderminster Station
List of infrastructure
Towards Bridgnorth