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Black Moss Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Windermere, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3773 / 54°22'38"N

Longitude: -2.8758 / 2°52'32"W

OS Eastings: 343209

OS Northings: 498335

OS Grid: SD432983

Mapcode National: GBR 8KCT.6M

Mapcode Global: WH82M.S7RL

Entry Name: Black Moss Bridge

Listing Date: 9 May 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1444243

Location: Windermere, South Lakeland, Cumbria, LA23

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

Civil Parish: Windermere

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Windermere St Martin

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

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Railway overbridge constructed for the Kendal and Windermere Railway in c1847 to the designs of Joseph Locke and constructed by Thomas Brassey.


Railway overbridge constructed for the Kendal and Windermere Railway in c1847 to the designs of Joseph Locke and constructed by Thomas Brassey.

MATERIALS: quarry-faced local limestone.

PLAN: single-span.

One of a sequence of bridges designed by Joseph Locke for the Kendal and Windermere Railway, which share a common design. The elliptical arch has alternating voussoirs which continue to the undersides, and spring from an impost band. This is flanked by slightly projecting, battered abutments ending in slim piers. The splayed parapet walls are set upon a moulded string course and are composed of small limestone blocks with flat coping stones. The arch soffit has a concrete render and the deck carries a metalled lane with a modern kerb.


The Kendal & Windermere Railway (also known as the Windermere Branch Line) was opened in April 1847. The line provided a crucial link to Kendal off the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway (which now forms part of the West Coast Main Line) and was promoted as such. When it became clear that the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway (L&CR) would not run directly through the town of Kendal efforts were put towards a branch line from the L&CR at Oxenholme (previously known as Kendal Junction), to run through Kendal to Windermere. One of the key purposes of the line was to stimulate tourist traffic into the area.

Joseph Locke, who had surveyed the route for the L&CR back in 1836-71 and was appointed Engineer-in-Chief for the L&CR was also the engineer for the Kendal & Windermere Railway. Thomas Brassey was the contractor and had previously worked alongside Locke on a number of railway projects. Jospeh Locke (1805-1860) is considered to be one of the great railway engineers alongside the Stephensons and Brunel. Locke started his career working for George Stephenson on the Liverpool to Manchester Railway and took responsibility for the western half of the line. He surveyed the route for the Grand Junction Railway and became chief engineer for the whole line establishing himself in his own right. Locke took a pragmatic approach to his role as engineer on all railway projects, where possible avoiding major engineering works by establishing the most efficient route.

The Kendal & Windermere Railway was the first (and is the only surviving) railway to serve the heart of the Lake District and had strong opposition from campaigners led by the poet William Wordsworth. There are a number of published letters and a sonnet named ‘On the Projected Kendal and Windermere Railway’ in which Wordsworth’s fears about what this line would do to Lakeland are expressed. However there was also much support for the scheme. The poet Richard Monckton Milnes, writing in 1844, pointed out that it was partly due to Wordsworth’s own poetry that people were inspired to visit the Lakes. He also felt that Wordsworth could not begrudge workers, living in cramped cities, who wished to escape the daily grind. The theme of opposition to railways and other industrial development was later taken up by John Ruskin, who opposed various plans to extend the Kendal & Windermere line through the central Lake District to Keswick. Ruskin also influenced the three founders of the National Trust, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, Octavia Hill, and Robert Hunter, to develop campaigns against construction of the Thirlmere reservoir in the 1860s and further railway proposals in Borrowdale and Ennerdale. The development of the Kendal to Windermere Railway is therefore considered to be an important event in the development of the landscape conservation movement.

The L&CR main line was a catalyst for the construction of connecting cross-country routes and branch lines and the Kendal & Windermere Railway was the first being built concurrently with the main line and opening only a few months after the main line. The support for the line ensured that it was not merely a perfunctory single line but a double-tracked route. The line terminated at the village of Birthwaite, about 1km above the lake shore, which later became known as the village of Windermere. This provided the basis for the growth of the town of Windermere and the prominence of resorts on Windermere in the later C19. The railway led to a real expansion of tourism in the South Lakes as the hotels had coaches ferrying tourists to and from Windermere.

Traffic peaked in the 1950s, but growing affluence and increasing car ownership soon brought a downturn in the line’s fortunes. The last through train from London was withdrawn in 1970 and, in the run-up to the 1974 electrification and resignalling of the West Coast Main Line, the railway was rationalized down to a single long siding from Oxenholme – meaning only one train could occupy the branch at any one time and locomotive-hauled charter trains could no longer reach the heart of the Lake District.

Reasons for Listing

Black Moss Bridge (OXW30) of c1847 by Joseph Locke for the Kendal and Windermere Railway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: an original overbridge built during the heroic age of railway construction on the second phase Kendal and Windermere Railway;
* Historic interest: the construction of the line was opposed strongly by campaigners led by William Wordsworth, and is seen as an important event in the development of the conservation movement;
* Engineer: designed by Joseph Locke, considered one of the great C19 railway engineers often cited alongside the Stephensons and Brunel;
* Architectural interest: a single-span, elliptical-arch bridge demonstrating craftsmanship in its construction and detailing;
* Degree of survival: the bridge is a largely unaltered example of Locke's original scheme;
* Group value: the structure benefits from a functional and historic group value with other Grade II listed bridges on the line.

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