The End of Ashton Avenue Double Decker Bridge – 1967

This photograph was published on Geograph.co.uk by Martin Tester and is shared here under a Creative Commons Licence.

It is dated around 1966-1967 and shows the upper deck of Ashton Avenue Bridge in the process of being dismantled. At this time the lines across the bridge were still double track, the West line was not removed until some time later.

“At one time this bridge over the New Cut was a really extraordinary structure – it had 2 decks, road above rail, & swung, using power supplied from the City Docks hydraulic system. The control cabin was on an elevated structure spanning the roadway. Built by Bristol Corporation & opened in 1906 it allowed the GWR’s line to Wapping Wharf (from Temple Meads) to be extended to serve more wharves, a new goods shed at Canon’s Marsh, & to connect with the Portishead Branch. A swing bridge was needed because the New Cut was used by river traffic to access Bathurst Basin. It was last swung in 1934 & formally fixed in 1951. The roadway & control cabin were removed in 1965-66 as part of major road changes around Cumberland Basin.”

This photo (source unknown) shows the bridge when both decks were in use. Note the tracks crossing left to right to access to other sidings next to A Bond, where the Create Centre car park now is. The diverging line at the bottom of the photo is the one to Canon’s Marsh.

GWR 1338 at the BHR (2000)

On 8th July 2000, visiting loco No.1338, built by Kitson for the Cardiff Railway and later absorbed into the GWR, was used in a photo charter down the New Cut branch. This locomotive is now based at Didcot on static display.

1338 rounds the corner at Butterfly Junction (image courtesy Pete Doel, with thanks)

Youtube channel ‘Classic Traction’ published a slideshow of the event.

TBT – Ashton Gate Station – 1970s/1980s

RMweb user Kevin aka Rivercider has tracked down some photos of the then-closed Ashton Gate Station site, with Ashton Meadows sidings on the BHR in the background.

This one is from flickr user emmdee and shows an 08 shunting the yard.

Ashton Meadows – 1970s

Flickr user Blue_Pelican_railway uploaded this one dated 1977, showing that the warehouse on the right has now had its rail connection severed. Nature is starting to take hold of the platforms.

Ashton Meadows – 1977

Blue_Pelican_railway also uploaded this shot from May 1984 with a Billy Graham train in the foreground, and a BR Class 37 in the yard. The engineers depot was still in use at this time. The growth of surrounding foliage in the intervening years is evident.

Ashton Meadows – 1984

Overhauls and Maintenance

There’s plenty going on at M Shed at the moment. Henbury is in the shed being dismantled for overhaul.

If you are visiting M Shed and would like to make a donation to help Henbury steam again, there is a donation box in front of the viewing window. All donations are welcome!

The TOAD brake van, meanwhile, is outside the workshop receiving new boards and a lick of paint on the door.

Much further down the line, Ashton Avenue Bridge is inside its cocoon, being repaired for use by MetroBus.

IMG_4749

End of the Season

Well, that’s the end of the 2015 operating season on the BHR. Plenty of exciting updates to come, with the ongoing metrobus and Whapping Wharf/Sugar Quay developments, and M Shed’s own projects.

Here’s a photo of a scene that won’t be repeated again, the old Butterfly Junction halt with ‘Judy’ on the passenger train.

Photo courtesy Tim Symons

Photo courtesy Tim Symons

 

End of the Line

Track lifting is well under way at Butterfly Junction, just the pointwork rails and the sleepers remaining in the station area. These photos also show the vegetation clearance that has taken place.

Ashton Avenue Bridge is now closed for refurbishment, along with the former trackbed. No doubt the rails still on the bridge will be coming out shortly.

A different scene over at SS Great Britain Halt, where the buffer stop has been moved from the end of the line here. I believe that this is to be used as the basis for a small shed, which should come in useful if the branch along the New Cut is closed while MetroBus is under construction.

TBT – GWR 813 at Ashton Meadows

It’s been a while since I’ve done any Throw Back Thursday posts, but with summer just around the corner, there are more to come!

This is a photo from a charter in 2001, during the last days of Ashton Meadows sidings (note the overgrown bushes). The loco is GWR 813, a unique survivor built in 1901 for the Port Talbot Railway in Wales. The 813 fund have given permission for this photo to be reproduced here.

To find out more about GWR 813 or help fund the group’s restoration projects, click here.

(Courtesy GWR 813 Fund)

(Courtesy GWR 813 Fund)

Butterfly Junction Redevelopment – 1

In this first look at the changing face of the Butterfly Junction area, you can see the extensive clearance of foliage that has taken place. Surveyors have been working in the area over the past few weeks.

 

Further down the line, the area around the Cumberland Road Bridge siding has also been cleared. The spare wagon wheelsets have been moved out of the way. The plans for the bridge indicate that the path here will be raised up to platform height in order to meet the new bridge.

Metrobus – Vegetation Clearance

The planned Metrobus route, formerly the line to Ashton Meadows sidings, has been tidied up.
This includes the line over Ashton Avenue Bridge (Rails are still extant on this section)
The clearance has exposed the old permanent way huts, some sleepers, and electrical boxes.

Metrobus and Ashton Avenue Bridge

Metrobus, the guided busway project in Bristol, has now been given financial backing and construction is due to start in 2015.
The busway scheme is set to use sections of the former BHR, joining at Ashton Junction (Going ‘up and over’ the Portishead Railway line on a bridge), then across the old sidings at Ashton Meadows, under the Cumberland bypass, then crossing the New Cut at Ashton Avenue Bridge. From here, it is intended that the buses take the route of the current BHR, joining onto Cumberland Road itself adjacent to the ‘West Yard’ throat.

The Metrobus Website has published the aims for the refurbishment of Ashton Avenue bridge, the deteriorating condition of which was one of the factors in the BHR ceasing operations South of the river in the 1990s.

The full webpage is here, but here are some excerpts:

Ashton Avenue Bridge is on Bristol City Council’s Listed Building At Risk Register.

The register describes the bridge as being in a very bad condition with clear signs of structural instability and says the bridge in its current state is at “immediate risk of further rapid deterioration”.

The MetroBus project will restore the Victorian bridge and return it to its original role as a public transport corridor

English Heritage have been consulted on our plans for the bridge and support the works to conserve it.

Restoring the bridge

Pedestrians and cyclists will still to be able to use the bridge after it has been restored. The restoration works include a lane for the MetroBus and a 3.5 metre pedestrian and cycle path that is wider, smoother and a safer environment than the current path.

Lighting will also be provided on the bridge, making it a much safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge at night. 

The proposed restoration works also include:

– Repair of corrosion damage which would otherwise compromise the long term durability of the bridge.

– Removal of graffiti.

– Removal of vegetation from piers and the bridge deck.

– Removal of temporary repair measures including metal mesh fencing.

– Removal of guardrail separating pedestrian walkway from rail line.

– Replacement of badly corroded deck plates.

– Repairs to trusses to allow drainage modification works which will reduce future corrosion.

Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the morning mist rising off the New Cut, November 2014

Ashton Avenue Bridge, with the morning mist rising off the New Cut, November 2014