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Plymbridge Road Bridge

A Grade II Listed Building in Plymouth, Plymouth

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Latitude: 50.3904 / 50°23'25"N

Longitude: -4.0591 / 4°3'32"W

OS Eastings: 253727

OS Northings: 56531

OS Grid: SX537565

Mapcode National: GBR Q0.STFG

Mapcode Global: FRA 28D0.DH3

Plus Code: 9C2Q9WRR+59

Entry Name: Plymbridge Road Bridge

Listing Date: 13 November 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1449716

Location: Plymouth, PL7

County: Plymouth

Electoral Ward/Division: Plympton St Mary

Built-Up Area: Plymouth

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


Railway overbridge, constructed in about 1848 for the South Devon Railway; chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.


Railway overbridge, constructed in about 1848 for the South Devon Railway; chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

MATERIALS: constructed of granite and ashlar dressings.

DESCRIPTION: it is a single-span overbridge carrying Plymbridge Road (B3416) over the railway. It is built of uncoursed stone rubble and has an elliptical arch with ashlar voussoirs. The bridge has a projecting string course to both external elevations. The parapet walls, parts of which have been rebuilt, have granite copings and terminate at square piers. The retaining walls to the abutments survive trackside at all four corners.


In 1844 Royal Assent was granted for the South Devon Railway to construct a railway between Exeter and Plymouth, and the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) was appointed to oversee the 52 mile project. The first section was opened between Exeter and Teignmouth in March 1846 and progressed westwards; opening in sections as work was completed, reaching beyond Newton Abbot to Laira (Plymouth) in May 1848. It was originally designed as an atmospheric railway (trains moved by a system of atmospheric (vacuum) traction, with the air being supplied by stationary engines along the line and extracted from pipes laid between the rails) which would allow for the steeper gradients and sharper curves of the line. The atmospheric trains were not, however, a success and were used on only part of the line, never running west beyond Newton Abbot. In September 1848 they were abandoned and replaced by steam locomotives. The Great Western Railway took over the line in 1876 and the South Devon Company was dissolved two years later. The line, along with all the GWR’s broad gauge lines, was converted to standard gauge in May 1892.

Plymbridge Road Bridge in Plympton dates from around 1848 when the line between Newton Abbot and Laira was constructed. It carries Plymbridge Road (B3416) over the railway, and is situated to the south-west of the now demolished Plympton Station which was opened in June 1848. The Ordnance Survey map of 1869 depicts the bridge crossing over single rail tracks, and by 1894 these have doubled. The bridge remains in use for road vehicles.

Reasons for Listing

Plymbridge Road Bridge, which carries the B3416 over the Exeter-Plymouth main line in Plympton, constructed in about 1848 for the South Devon Railway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a good and well-executed example an elliptical-arched overbridge which is essentially intact other than minor parapet repairs.

Historic interest:

* for its association with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, widely perceived as one of the most important transport engineers of the C19, and the South Devon Railway;
* although not part of the earliest and pioneering phase of railway development, it is nonetheless of relatively early date and constructed in a period of considerable expansion for the English railway.

Group value:

* with other listed structures on the South Devon Railway, including Sparkwell Bridge and Moor Bridge, both of 1848 and listed at Grade II. This group value is enhanced by its shared architectural style with Moor Bridge.

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