Lincolnshire Ramblers

Lincs Area RA

Torksey Bridge re-opens for walkers

Torksey bridge or Torksey viaduct is an old railway bridge over the Trent connecting Torksey in Lincolnshire with Cottam in Nottinghamshire.  The bridge was part of the old Lincoln to Sheffield direct line until it was closed  in 1959. British Railways would have liked to sell it for scrap but this was not possible because it had long been grade II* listed and on the Heritage at Risk register.

torksey bridgeA

                 Torksey Viaduct. Photo(unmodified) Copyright Tim Heaton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

It has long been the ambition of the local authorities on both sides of the river as well as cycling and walking campaigners to have the bridge converted to a multi purpose public path. Thanks to the charity Sustrans this has at last come about, although so far only as a walking route. Structural restoration work has been carried out by Sustrans’ sister charity, Railway Paths Ltd (RPL). Work had previously been stalled by landowner opposition.

The bridge was officially opened as a walkway to the public on 21st April 2016. Bridges over the river are few so this gives new opportunities for people on both sides new walking opportunities. This is the opportunity for ramblers to plan interesting new routes. Let us hope that the route for cyclists and riders will not be long delayed. For cyclists the aim is to have a quiet cycling route between Lincoln and Retford. Cyclists wishing to use the bridge as it now is will need to carry their cycles up or down the wooden steps on the west side.

 Torksey Bridge, near Lincoln, was built between 1847 and 1849. It was designed by John Fowler, architect of the Forth Rail Bridge, and was one of the first steel girder bridges ever built. The nearest crossings are the busy A57 road at Dunham, five miles south, and Gainsborough, seven miles north.

Torksey Viaduct has two 130 feet (40 m) spans across the River Trent. It was built between 1847 and 1849 to carry the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (Clarborough Junction-Sykes Junction branch). It is of unusual design and is regarded as the first box girder bridge. It was designed by John Fowler, who had been influenced by Fairbairn and Stephenson's tubular bridges at Conwy and the Menai Straits. Interestingly it took the engineer Sir John Fowler 4 months to convince the Railway Commissioners that it was strong enough. .

In 1897 the bridge was strengthened to take heavier trains  by adding a more conventional central truss above the deck rather than by strengthening the box.

Reference sources: Wikipedia and Lincolnshire Fieldpaths Association Newsletter Spring 2016

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