Rugby Rd Rail Bridge Replacement

Rugby Rd, Milverton, Leamington Spa
Railway Bridge Replacement 2022

The railway bridge over the A445 Rugby Road in Leamington Spa was in poor condition, requiring train speeds to be reduced to 20mph on a busy route, and the decision was taken to replace the nineteenth century structure. This was a task requiring much preparatory work with the actual replacement taking place during the Easter weekend of 2022.

To affect a massive undertaking like this in a residential area requires space for the contractor (in this case Story) to build the new bridge and also to store the old bridge during demolition. Story were given permission to use part of ‘Potterton’s Field’ between Rock Mill Lane and the river Avon. Potterton’s Field is now a public park with paths trees and bushes.

Stage 1 was to clear the park (this will be restored by Story after completion of the job). A working surface was then created by making a bed of granite stones compressed and levelled, about 3 foot high, and covering this with plastic boards each about 3 yards square. Levelling was done with optical equipment. An access ramp from Rock Mill Lane was also created with the requirement that it could take the weight of the transport vehicles and loads.

The first sign of construction was the appearance of large steel hollow blocks which are used as jigs in the construction. Two rows of these were laid out at the correct spacing for the bridge length.

The appearance of low loaders carrying the concrete parts of the new bridge (these were cast in Ireland) created great excitement for all the local little boys, including myself, who were then seen daily watching the progress.

Of particular interest was the ‘big yellow crane’ with its ‘telescopic’ construction.

The concrete parts were then assembled on the jig and internal work on the ‘rail tracks’ carried out.

The complete bridge was then raised and further jig blocks introduced until it was at the required height for the transporter.

During this time preparatory work had been carried out on the old bridge and the area which still retained the platform of the ‘Milverton Station’ which no longer exists. This work included the use of large quantities of ballast to improve the site. Preparation of the route included trimming of trees and removal of bollards and roadside furniture.

(It was noted during the transport of the new bridge that it overhung gardens on both sides of the Rugby Road and had to be manoeuvred carefully to avoid accidental damage to property).

Over the Easter weekend 2022 the old bridge was taken out and removed to the working site and placed on steel blocks for demolition.

The transporter used to move the bridges was an SPMT (Self-propelled modular transport) vehicle. This had 80 wheels which could be revolved for manoeuvrability, a turntable and lifting capacity. It was diesel powered and controlled by remote cable.

The SPMT picked up the bridge and with the bridge oriented in the direction of rail travel, it took it up to the site and turned the bridge 90 degrees before going the last few yards and placing it in position.

The new bridge is now operational.

Text and photographs © George Sayell – 23rd April 2022

(More photographs are available in our photo gallery – click here.)