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Railway Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Langley St Mary's, Slough

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Latitude: 51.5092 / 51°30'33"N

Longitude: -0.5643 / 0°33'51"W

OS Eastings: 499734

OS Northings: 179900

OS Grid: SU997799

Mapcode National: GBR F88.853

Mapcode Global: VHFT9.5BKC

Entry Name: Railway Bridge

Listing Date: 13 April 2006

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391571

English Heritage Legacy ID: 494861

Location: Slough, SL3

County: Slough

Electoral Ward/Division: Langley St Mary's

Built-Up Area: Slough

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Langley Marish

Church of England Diocese: Oxford

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Listing Text


13-APR-06 Railway bridge

Railway bridge, 1836-8, with later additions of 1878 and 1914; Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

MATERIALS: The 1836-8 and 1878 arched spans are both built of London stock brick with white hydraulic mortar, semi-elliptical arches on limestone imposts and dressed gritstone copings. The original 1830s arch and southern abutment retain their original parapets, approach, copings, and south-western terminal pilasters. That to the south-east has recently been rebuilt in blue brick. There are raking buttress to each side of the pier between the 1835-8 and 1878 arched spans. These retain fabric from the original north abutment of the original Brunel bridge and thus reflect the angle of the surviving Brunel abutment to the south.

FAÇADE: Middlegreen Road bridge was built in 1836-8 as a London stock brick 18ft wide overbridge for minor public roads, with gently-splayed abutments flanking a 30ft-span semi-elliptical arch accommodating two broad-gauge tracks (subsequently two mixed broad-/standard-gauge tracks from 1861 until the abolition of broad gauge in 1892). The original arch was extended to its north with a matching 25ft-span arched extension during the Southall-Slough quadrupling of 1878. The extension had a 20ft span level-beam steel girder span added for the single-line Langley-Dolphin (Slough) loop in 1914. The 1914 northern abutment has steeply-angled wing walls rather than Brunel's gently-splayed originals.

HISTORY: In March 1832 the Bristol Railway company was set up to construct a 118-mile long railway line from London to Bristol. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59), the 26 year-old son of the leading civil engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel (1769-1849) who was already well-regarded in Bristol because of his work on the Clifton Bridge and the City Docks, was appointed the company engineer of what was renamed the Great Western Railway. For the next fifteen years he devoted much of his energy to creating what he intended to be 'the Finest Work in England' (Rolt 1957, 171), an unprecedented service of high-speed passenger transport linking London with south-west England. The main line from London to Bristol was constructed in 1835-41 in eight separate sections using a variety of contractors and some direct labour. The first section to be opened was that from Bishop's Road, London, to Maidenhead Riverside, in the summer of 1838. The whole line, from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads was opened in July 1841. Thereafter extensions followed to Exeter, Plymouth, and Penzance; as the South Wales Railway to Cardiff, Swansea, and Milford Haven; and northward to Gloucester, Oxford, and the Mersey.

Brunel oversaw all aspects of the GWR concept and design which was distinctive and comprehensive: the choice of route, which by careful survey and grading was relatively level and with gentle curves; the adoption of a 'broad gauge' of 7 feet 0 ¼ inch rather than the usual 'narrow gauge' of 4 feet 8 ½ inches to give stability at speed; and the carriage of the line via both showpiece engineering structures (perhaps in-part inspired by John Martin's 'apocalyptic sublime' paintings of the ancient world: Freeman 1999, 74-5) including viaducts at Hanwell and Chippenham, the Box Tunnel, and iron and masonry bridges and more prosaic ones such as the nine bridges under consideration.

Archival study by Dr. Brindle has ascertained the Middlegreen Road bridge formed part of Brunel's contracts 4 L[ondon] and 5L and, like other bridges included therein, was erected between the spring of 1836 and May 1838 when the Paddington-Maidenhead line opened.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Middlegreen Road bridge was built as an overbridge across the GWR in 1836-8 to a design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. While extended to the north in 1878 and 1914 with the loss of its north abutment, perhaps two-thirds of Brunel's bridge survives, and this is the reason for the designation. It is of considerable historic significance for the early Brunel fabric.

S. Brindle, Paddington Station (2005); R. Angus Buchanan, 'Brunel, Isambard Kingdom (1806-1859)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004); M. Freeman, Railways and the Victorian Imagination (1999); L. T. C. Rolt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1957); RPS Planning & Environment, Crossrail: Technical Assessment of Historic Railway Bridges (January 2005); Developing Crossrail: Round 2 Consultation Document August to October 2004.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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