WEST LANCASHIRE RAILWAY - RIBBLE BRIDGE (PRESTON)

[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]


Notes: The West Lancashire Railway (WLR) River Ribble bridge was located at the northern end of the company’s Southport & Preston Railway that opened in stages between 1878 and 1882. The bridge carried the WLR across the River Ribble and into Preston where the company had their own terminus station located at Fishergate Hill.

The crossing of the Ribble was not an easy task and involved a great deal of preparation. It was further complicated by Preston Corporation insisting that there had to be an 80ft wide excavation taken down to 10ft depth that had to be made into sandstone. The reason given was to aid navigation.

The contractors were Messrs Braddock & Matthews and the resident engineer for construction was a Mr Blackburn. Work had started on the bridge by 1881, and in order to construct the stone piers that would carry it coffer dams had to be built. On 31 July 1881 the river flooded following heavy downpours combined with high tides. One of the coffer dams was destroyed and with it went equipment and materials which set the work back. Another flood occurred on 10 August 1881 but preparations had been made and no equipment was lost on this occasion.

The bridge was completed by September 1882. It was 45 ft above the river and had six piers made from stone quarried at Longridge. The six piers supported five iron spans that varied in length from 58 ft to 60 ft. On the south side it was approached by an embankment that included a bridge over the Leyland Road and over the Riverside Road. On the north bank the line crossed over Broadgate and was then carried over a masonry viaduct of 12 arches to enable it to approach Preston WLR station.

On 1 September 1882 as part of the line inspection by the Board of Trade inspector Major-General Hutchinson a heavy locomotive with an assortment of coaches was taken onto the bridge. Later that day four engines were driven onto it, and they ran back and forth at various speeds. The bridge was recorded as deflecting by a quarter of an inch which was deemed to be acceptable. The inspector sanctioned opening of the line for 4 September 1882. A special train to mark the opening ran from Southport to Preston on 5 September 1882. From 16 September 1882 the bridge began to carry regular traffic.

In July 1897 the WLR was amalgamated with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (LYR). On 10 January 1899 an LYR board minute recorded that the adjoining viaduct, on the north side of the river, needed heavy repairs. In July 1900 regular passenger services ceased to operate over the bridge when the Preston WLR station closed to passengers and became a goods-only facility.

The bridge became part of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway in 1923 and during their period of ownership a gas pipeline was fitted to it. On 1 January 1948 it became part of British Railways London Midland Region.

On 26 January 1965 the former Preston WLR station closed completely. The bridge over the Ribble was redundant, and it was demolished by the summer of 1968 although its piers were left standing and the gas pipe remained in place.

Sources:

See also
The Penwortham Triangle
& Preston (WLR) Station


Looking west at the WLR Ribble Bridge from the north bank of the River Ribble in the late 19th Century. To the far left Ribble Junction signal box can be seen.

1893 1:2,500 OS map.

Looking north from the southern bank of the River Ribble along the WLR line towards Preston in the late 19th Century. The picture was taken from a point just to the north of Ribble Junction and shows the WLR Ribble Bridge and, beyond it, the viaduct that carried the line into the WLR Preston terminus.

An aerial view of the WLR Ribble Bridge in the 1950s.

Demolition of the girders of the bridge over the Ribble is in progress.  It gave access to the original WLR terminus at Preston (Fishergate Hill), only a couple of hundred yards distant from this point. The short branch from Penwortham Junction to Preston (West Lancs Goods) remained in use for a few further months after closure of the remainder of the route to facilitate rail access for No. 17 Target, [9T17] the daily 7:30am trip-working from Lostock Hall. This train brought supplies, via the Whitehouse South curve, to the sidings of R. Silcock & Sons, a local firm of provender merchants. This last-remaining section of the old line eventually closed on 25 January 1965.
P
hoto by Alan Castle

The remains of the West Lancashire Railway's Ribble Bridge, looking north-east from the south bank of the River Ribble in January 2012. The stone piers of the bridge still carry a gas pipe across the river.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

South end of the West Lancashire Railway's Ribble Bridge in January 2012.
Photo by Paul Wright

Looking north from the south bank of the River Ribble at the remains of the West Lancashire Railway (WLR) bridge that had carried the Southport and Preston railway across the river and into the WLR’s Preston station. The line had closed to regular passenger services in 1900 and completely in January 1965. The bridge was demolished shortly after the line closed.
P
hoto by Paul Wright

Looking north towards the Preston West Lancashire Railway station from the south side of the company’s Ribble Bridge in January 2012.
Photo by Paul Wright

Click on thumbnail to enlarge


 

 

 

[Source:Tony Graham & Paul Wright]




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