Listed Building record MDR16473 - Strutts Bridge, part of the North Midland Railway, off Chevin Road, Belper

Type and Period (1)

  • (Victorian to 21st Century - 1840 AD? to 2050 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Strutts Bridge, part of the North Midland Railway, off Chevin Road, Belper, built c1840. From the National Heritage List for England: 'Summary A single-span, stone overbridge built 1836-40 for the North Midland Railway to the designs of George and Robert Stephenson with Frederick Swanwick. Reasons for Designation Strutt’s Bridge, constructed in 1836-40, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: as an early example of a railway structure dating from the pioneering phase in national railway development; * Historic interest: as a bridge that forms part of the North Midland Railway, which was designed by George and Robert Stephenson, among the greatest and most influential of all railway engineers, with their assistant Frederick Swanwick; * Architectural interest: as an example of the consistently high quality design and careful detailing of railway structures completed for the North Midland Railway. The aesthetic quality of the bridge far exceeds the functional and structural requirements of bridge design; * Intactness: as a remarkably unaltered bridge. History The Midland Main Line is the outcome of a number of historic construction phases undertaken by different railway companies. The first two phases were carried out simultaneously between 1836 and 1840 by the North Midland Railway and the Midland Counties Railway. The North Midland Railway, which operated between Derby and Chesterfield and onwards to Rotherham and Leeds, was pre-eminently the work of George (1781-1848) and Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) who, along with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, are the most renowned engineers of this pioneering phase of railway development. They worked closely with the Assistant Engineer, Frederick Swanwick (1810-1885). The railway’s architect Francis Thompson (1808-1895) designed stations and other railway buildings along the line. The less demanding route for the Midland Counties Railway, which ran between Derby and Nottingham to Leicester and on to Rugby, was surveyed by Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) who was engineer to a large number of railway projects. These two companies (along with the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway) did not yield the expected profits, partly because of the fierce competition between them. This led to the three companies merging into the Midland Railway in 1844 which constituted the first large scale railway amalgamation. The next part of the line from Leicester to Bedford and on to Hitchin was constructed between 1853 and 1857 by the engineer Charles Liddell (c.1813-1894) and specialist railway architect Charles Henry Driver (1832-1900). In 1862 the decision was made to extend the line from Bedford to London which was again the responsibility of Liddell, except for the final fourteen miles into London and the design of the terminus at St Pancras (listed at Grade I) which was undertaken by William Barlow (1812-1902). Additional routes were then added from Chesterfield to Sheffield in 1870, and from Kettering to Corby in 1879. The most important changes to the infrastructure of the Midland Railway were the rebuilding of its principal stations and the increasing of the line’s capacity, involving the quadrupling of some stretches of the route south of the Trent from the early 1870s to the 1890s. Strutt’s Bridge was built between 1836 and 1840 as part of the North Midland Railway. The route from Derby to Chesterfield and onwards to Rotherham and Leeds was surveyed by George Stephenson in 1835, and the Act of Parliament for the construction of the 72 mile line was obtained in 1836. Linked at Derby to the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway and the Midland Counties Railway, it was to form part of a route from London to Yorkshire and the North East. George Stephenson was joined by his son Robert as joint Chief Engineer on the project in 1837. In order to concentrate on his mineral and mining interests, George relinquished his railway projects in 1839 so it was his son who saw the North Midland through to its completion in 1840. Part of Robert Stephenson’s skill in handling railway projects was his ability to select and manage an able team, and he entrusted much of the engineering design of the North Midland to Frederick Swanwick whose name appears on the surviving contract drawings. The Stephensons, supported by Swanwick, designed the line north from Derby to have gradients no greater than 1 in 250 to suit the low power of contemporary steam locomotives, which meant relegating Sheffield to a link line. To achieve such gradients the line followed the River Derwent as far as Ambergate and then ran through more difficult territory up the valley of the River Amber via Wingfield and Clay Cross to Chesterfield, then over to Rotherham and via Wakefield to Leeds. The notable sequence of picturesque stations along the line was designed by Francis Thompson who was therefore also influential in setting his stamp on the character of the line. Strutt’s Bridge is one of an extended sequence of surviving stone bridges for the North Midland Railway between Derby and Chesterfield designed by George and Robert Stephenson, with their Assistant Engineer, Frederick Swanwick. The bridge shares many characteristics with others, such as the near identical bridge to the south, Chevin Road Bridge (SPC8 22). This section of the line has not been widened which has resulted in the preservation of this, and a number of the other overbridges, in an essentially unaltered state. The original contract drawings for this bridge do not survive. Details A single-span, stone overbridge built 1836-40 for the North Midland Railway to the designs of George and Robert Stephenson with Frederick Swanwick. MATERIALS: coursed and squared Coal Measure Sandstone with ashlar Derbyshire Gritstone dressings. The soffit of the arch is of skew-set red brick. DESCRIPTION: the two faces of the bridge are essentially identical. The single, segmental arch conforms to the standard dimensions of the Stephensons’ North Midland overbridges, with a span of 30ft and, originally, a height of 16ft. It has V-chanelled, rusticated gritstone ashlar voussoirs, which spring from impost bands. These impost bands continue into the underside of the bridge. Beneath them the abutments are faced with coursed and squared quarry-faced sandstone with ashlar gritstone quoins, and a plinth with a chamfered top edge. The arch is framed by wing walls, which have a concave rake and curve gently. They are faced in squared and coursed quarry-faced sandstone and terminate in half octagonal piers. The roadway is steeply inclined and this is demarked on the bridge faces by the angle of the bold roll moulding and the parapets which rise from the up (east) side to the down (west) sides. The parapets consist of three courses of squared and coursed quarry-faced stone surmounted by broad, tooled and square-moulded coping stones, with a slight fall to the outside edge. Fixed to the top of the parapets is a modern, steel hand rail. The inner faces of the parapets increase from one and half courses on the down (west) side to two and a half on the up (east) side. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the steel hand rails fixed to the top of the parapets of the bridge are not of special architectural or historic interest. Sources Books and journals The North Midland Railway Guide, (1842) Bailey, M, Robert Stephenson - the Eminent Engineer, (2003) Biddle, G, Britain’s Historic Railway Buildings, (2003) Williams, F S, The Midland Railway: its rise and progress, (1886) Carter, O F, 'Back Track vol 9' in Francis Thompson 1908-95 - an architectural mystery solved, (April 1995) Other Alan Baxter & Associates, Midland Main Line Statement of History and Significance, 2013, Samuel Russell, North Midland Railway lithographs, unpublished.' (1)

Sources/Archives (1)

  • <1> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England.



Grid reference SK 34670 45862 (point)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

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Record last edited

Aug 21 2022 6:45PM

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