SUMMARY OF BUILDING
The William Street Bridge is one of a series of bridges over the railway line in Belper, Derbyshire and lengths of masonry wall lining the cutting which they span, built for the North Midland Railway Company between 1837and 1840.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The William Street bridge over the railway line passing through Belper, constructed in 1837-40, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: the bridge forms part of a series of railway structures built for the North Midland Railway between 1837 and 1840. The line was designed by George Stephenson, one of the most important and influential engineers of the railway era, aided by Frederick Swanwick, the North Midland Railway company's resident engineer. The line is considered to be amongst the best- preserved examples of the pioneering phase of railway development in England, and retains many of its original engineering structures, of which this is an example; * Architectural interest: the bridge is an example of the consistently high quality design and careful detailing of railway structures completed for the North Midland Railway between 1837 and !840. The aesthetic quality of the bridge far exceeds the functional and structural requirements of bridge design; * Group value: the bridge forms part of an integrated design for the Belper cutting, in which the overbridges and the cutting walls share a common architectural vocabulary, and are seen in combination with one another as elements of a railway transport landscape of great interest and quality.
The railway bridge on William Street, Belper forms part of the extension of the North Midland Railway line from Derby to Chesterfield, which opened in 1840. The line cut through the town of Belper, where the industrialist Jedediah Strutt had developed one of the pioneering late C18 textile manufacturing communities of the Derwent valley at the northern end of the original settlement. The new railway line was carried in a deep, mile long cutting through Belper, necessitating the construction of masonry walls to the cutting, and the provision of eleven new bridges, including those where the line passed through pre-existing streets of terraced housing built by the Strutt family for mill workers.
The new railway line was surveyed and engineered by George Stephenson, one of the pre-eminent engineers of the C19, and the railway company’s resident engineer, Frederick Swanwick. The line was constructed between 1837 and 1840, passing through challenging terrain, necessitating the construction of tunnels, bridges and viaducts of varying design. The line required a series of new stations which were designed by the North Midland Railway Company’s architect, Francis Thompson of Derby. Thompson was appointed architect to the North Midland Railway in February 1839, having returned from working in Canada. He designed the new station at Derby for the three railway companies which were later amalgamated to form the Midland Railway – the Midland Counties Railway, the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the North Midland Railway, as well as the stations on the line to the north of Derby of which only the station at Wingfield survives. The Belper cutting and its bridges were the subject of one of the illustrations of the completed North Midland Railway line by the lithographic artist Samuel Russell, commissioned by the aforementioned Francis Thompson.
The William Street Bridge and a number of other railway structures in Belper were added to the Statutory List in December 1979.
BUILDING: road bridge over railway..
DATE: constructed between1837-1840.
ARCHITECT: the bridge is thought to have been constructed to a standard design. An indenture of the 5th of December 1837 refers to ' specification and drawings or plan which have been prepared by, or under the direction of supervision of George Stephenson and Frederick Swanwick, the principal and resident engineers appointed by the said Company' ( the North Midland Railway Company).
MATERIALS: ashlar and regularly coursed squared Derbyshire gritstone.
PLAN: the bridge is a single-arch overbridge carrying a section of road on a residential street over the railway. It is aligned east-west.
EXTERIOR: the bridge has a wide elliptical arch rising from ashlar skewbacks, with ashlar voussoirs below a deep roll moulding, Above the moulding is an ashlar plinth course and two courses of rectangular gritstone blocks which together form the parapet walls of the bridge. Above these are deep, wide ashlar copings with rounded upper arrises. There are substantial abutments at either end of the bridge with V-jointed ashlar quoins. The roll moulding of the bridge is carried through into the adjacent flanking walls of the railway cutting.
National Grid Reference: SK 34768 47839