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British Industrial History

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Soane Bridge

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The railway bridge for the East Indian Railway consists of twenty-eight wrought-iron lattice girders, each of 150 feet clear span, resting on brickwork piers 12 feet wide, these piers being built upon wooden curbs shod with iron and sunk into the clay bed of the river to an average depth of about 30 feet. The total length of the bridge between the abutments is 4,530 feet, added to which there are smaller spans on each side forming the land approaches.

The bridge (weighing approximately 3,500 tons) was constructed in the UK, and its erection in India was entrusted to the late Samuel Power, an experienced member of Mr. Brunel’s staff, with Bernhard Schmidt for his assistant. But before the work of erection had very far advanced, Mr. Power was compelled on account of ill-health to leave India, and on the special recommendation of himself and of the late George Turnbull, Engineering chief of the Railway, Mr. Schmidt received from the Board full charge of the works with the rank of District Engineer.

1856 Work commenced

1863 February Opened

1856 Report: 'IRON LATTICE BRIDGE FOR THE EAST INDIAN RAILWAY.
A bridge of somewhat novel construction is now being made in this country for the East Indian Railway. It is intended to cross the river Soane, one of the tributaries of the Ganges, and when complete will be nearly a mile in length. There will be 29 piers, and the span from pier to pier will be 150 feet, being about 26 feet more than the span of the arches of the High Level-bridge, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Like that structure, it will consist of two roadways, the upper one for the railway, and the lower one for foot passengers and palanquin bearers, the height from the lower to the upper way being 26 feet. The peculiarity of the construction is that the two roads are fastened together and supported by latticework of wrought-iron, combining great strength with a light and elegant appearance. The bars are of channel iron, and cross each other diagonally, being firmly riveted together at each crossing. One complete arch has just been constructed at the Elswick Engine Work, Newcastle, by way of experiment, and the result is most satisfactory. The entire weight is 120 tons. It was made with a slight curve, two inches higher than a dead level, and when tested with a weight of 362 tons it only went down two inches below the level, or four inches altogether at the centre. The separate lengths or arches will rest at each end on five rollers of cast iron, to allow of expansion or contraction, according to the variations of the temperature. The engineer engaged in the construction of this bridge is Mr. George Rendel, of London. As soon as the bridge is completed it will be taken to pieces in order to be shipped, and will be re-constructed in India'[1].

2019 Passing on the railway on the new Soane Bridge, it appeared the old bridge was being dismantled, presumably to recover the iron.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. York Herald - Saturday 29 November 1856