Skip to main content

Listed Building record MDR16477 - Railway Bridge, Crich Junction, Bullbridge, Ripley

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Railway bridge, Crich Junction, Bullbridge, Ripley, built c1837. From the National Heritage List for England: 'Summary A single-span skew underbridge over the River Amber, built c.1837–1840 to the design of North Midland Railway Assistant Engineer Frederick Swanwick, under George and Robert Stephenson, and widened on both sides c.1863–1880. Reasons for Designation Crich Junction Bridge, built in c.1837-40 for the North Midland Railway and widened c.1863-1880, is listed 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, a railway line 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. Although widened in c.1863-1880, the alterations, as they stand, closely match the existing structure and are of interest in accommodating a major Midland Railway junction; * Engineering interest: as one of the earliest types of railway skew-arched bridges in the world built according to the ‘helicoidal’ system of construction; * Group value: with a series of listed railway structures at Ambergate and Bullbridge that share a common architectural language, and form part of a historic railway landscape of great interest. 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. Crich Junction Bridge was built between 1837 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. Crich Junction Bridge, also known as River Amber Bridge, is one of a series of stone bridges designed by the North Midland Railway Assistant Engineer Frederick Swanwick. It was constructed under the contract for Bull Bridge, which was won by Thomas Jackson with a tender of £63,000 in December 1837. The bridge was complete by the opening of the line from Derby to Masborough on 11 May 1840. The area around Ambergate and Bullbridge became a major Midland Railway junction with the opening of two further lines: up the Derwent Valley to Matlock in 1849, later extended as the main line to Manchester, and to Pye Bridge in the Erewash valley in 1875. It was also the location of George Stephenson & Co.’s Crich Lime Kilns, which had a narrow inclined railway that joined the line via a turntable. These additions to the network necessitated extensive sidings, for which Crich Junction Bridge was widened on both sides. Historic maps show that this took place in c.1863–80, for one siding on the north (down) side and two on the south (up) side. While the south side widening was an extension of the c.1837–40 arched masonry structure, the wing walls on the north side were altered to carry an iron plate girder span. A historic drawing shows that the iron span to the widened north side was replaced with a steel girder by British Rail, c.1948–65. This has since been removed and a new parapet erected in coursed stone. The parapets are topped by later steel railings. Details A single-span skew underbridge over the River Amber, built c.1837–1840 to the design of North Midland Railway Assistant Engineer Frederick Swanwick, under George and Robert Stephenson, and widened on both sides c.1863–1880. MATERIALS: coursed and squared quarry-faced Derbyshire Gritstone, with ashlar dressings and red brick soffits. DESCRIPTION: one skew span carrying the Midland Main Line over the River Amber. It comprises, from north to south: wing walls of c.1863–80, formerly for a flat metal span; the segmental masonry arch of c.1837–40; the segmental masonry arch of c.1863–80. The wing walls of c.1863–80 have ashlar padstones formerly for the flat metal span. Set back between them is the north face of the c.1837–40 arch. Its abutments and parapet have been heightened in coursed stone; the parapet is capped by a steel railing set in thin concrete slabs. The c.1837–40 arch has rusticated voussoirs, which return as quoins to the soffit, abutment quoins and an impost band. Its south face meets the straight join with the c.1863–80 arch. The impost band is carried through the c.1863–80 arch. It curves around the south face of the bridge to terminate at the projecting piers flanking the arch. The south face of the bridge has rusticated voussoirs which are cut short at the crown by a cornice which carries across the projecting piers. There is a low ashlar parapet above, topped with a steel railing. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the steel railings 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) Williams, F S, The Midland Railway: its rise and progress, (1886) Other Alan Baxter & Associates, Midland Main Line Statement of History and Significance (2013) Midland Railway, maps, various Network Rail, Examination Reports, various Network Rail, National Records Centre, barcode no. DMFP00059742 Ordnance Survey, County Series, 1880.' (1)

Sources/Archives (1)

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



Grid reference SK 35620 52003 (point)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (0)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Oct 30 2023 2:11PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.