Cremorne or Chelsea Railway bridge, which carries the West London Extension, is one of the least-known Thames bridges. It is stated to have been designed jointly by William Baker, Chief Engineer of the Great Western Railway and T. H. Bertram, Chief Engineer of the London & North Western. In practice, one engineer's office must have taken the lead, with the other approving the design. There seems to have been little or no involvement by the LBSCR and LSWR, the junior partners in the West London Extension Railway. The contractor was Brassey & Ogilvie.
The bridge has five segmental arches of 144 feet span. Each comprises three pairs of parallel, wrought iron girders on cast iron bearing plates, with lattice-work spandrels. The main girders taper towards the crown of the arch. Most of the rivets on the outer face of the bridge are counter-sunk, and the resulting smooth finish gives the appearance of cast iron. Piers are brick with stone facings, on concrete foundations. The bridge itself is 340 yards long, but in addition there are approach viaducts of yellow brick on both sides of the river. On the south bank there are four arches and on the north side six, giving a total length for the structure of 423 yards.
The bridge was completed in 1862 and opened to traffic on 2nd March 1863. Modern calculations of its loading capacity led to a 15mph speed restriction being imposed by British Rail and only one train being allowed on the bridge at one time. This resulted in considerable capacity and operating restrictions on the railway, so the bridge was substantially renovated and strengthened between 1990 and 1992.
All photographs are copyright
return to the Railway Structures menu
return to picture gallery page
This page was created 11 January 2010