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British Industrial History

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Monksmoor Bridge (Devon)

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2005 Monksmoor Bridge, Bittaford, Devon. Image credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Kevin Hale -

at Wrangaton/Bittaford, south Devon.

Carries the Paddington-Penzance railway line over the old A38.

See Geograph entry for photo (see above) and map.

As built in 1848, this was one of I. K. Brunel's more unusual timber bridges, needing a span of 102 ft to cross a roadway just 27 ft wide, due to the extreme angle of skew (15 degrees). It is well described an illustrated in 'Brunel's Timber Bridges and Viaducts' by Brian Lewis[1]. It was characterised by two enormous wooden A-frames, and was originally intended to carry Brunel's atmospheric railway. However it soon needed to be strengthened to accommodate the forces from railway locomotives, and additional support was provided by five large wooden beams across the roadway, supported on extensions to the abutments. These cross beams were strengthened by wrought iron trusses. The wooden bridge acquired the name 'Cocked Hat Bridge', but was replaced by a riveted plate girder bridge in 1893. This in turn has been replaced by the present steel girder bridge, but the alterations to the abutments to accommodate the five cross beams can still be seen.

An 1893 engraving of the bridge may be found in 'The Engineer'[2].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Brunel's Timber Bridges and Viaducts' by Brian Lewis, Ian Allan Publishing, 2007, pp.70-72
  2. [1] The Engineer, 24 June 1892, pp.544