Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Soar Lane Lifting Bridge

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The bridge during its sojourn at the late, lamented, Snibston Discovery Museum

Originally in Leicester, now dismantled.

In 1833 a contract was placed with Copeland and Harding for construction of the Soar Lane Branch of the Leicester and Swannington Railway. A small lifting bridge was provided to cross the Leicester Navigation.

Designed by Robert Stephenson and built by the company in its own shops. Evidently design and construction did not take up much time or money! Wagons would be hauled by horses, not by locomotives.

The wooden lifting section was guided by four wooden pillars, over which the counterweight chains ran in grooved wheels. During the design phase, it was agreed to amend the height above water level from 11ft 4in to the 9ft 10in which the Leicester Navigation considered sufficient. The movable section was 28ft 6in long and 11ft 6in wide, carrying a single track. It came into use on 4 October 1834. The bridge was replaced by a new one of almost identical design in 1845, also made in the company's shops. 'Parts of it have been retained in the existing bridge'.[1]. The bridge was rebuilt and displayed at Snibston Discovery Museum until 2015 when the museum closed. The iron components have been saved by the Leicester Historical Society. Historical notes and photos of the bridge at Snibston, together with recent photos of the original location, may be found here.

Several 1960s photographs may be seen here. These show the drive shaft passing into a small cabin. Note the small size of the lifting chains, which were worked by small diameter drums, interconnected by gears.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'The Leicester and Swannington Railway' by C. R. Clinker, Leicestershire Archaeological Society: see p.74 and Plate II