Over the years there are often reoccurring letters and e-mails regarding certain regional features that Beamish might consider saving. A few years ago there was some correspondence regarding a bridge on the Esk Valley Line into Whitby, where a bridge built by Head Ashby was in situ and out of use. With improvements to the line’s infrastructure on-going, a watching brief was kept on this structure until recently we had the call that it would be removed and Network Rail would donate it to the Museum.
Why the interest? Well, it dates from 1863 and Head Ashby is the predecessor of Head Wrightson – who later built our Coffee Pot No.1 and No.17 locomotives on Teesside. There is therefore great regional interest. The design of the bridge is very attractive, with slender cast handrails bolted to the two main bridge beams, complete with cast-in makers lettering. It was therefore considered important to save and would ultimately make an attractive and historic feature at the Museum (perhaps with the Coffee Pot’s stood beneath it to help christen it with smoke?!). This was a case of ‘rescue it when it became available’ and whilst it was agreed to collect it if it became available some years back, the time for its release has only now come and it now resides at Beamish pending eventual repair and inclusion in a new structure…
Below: Bridge MBW/2 61 in position at Danby. Note that it had not carried a deck for some time, the adjacent bridge being the running line. Photo c/o John Reay
Below: A close up of its parentage, it being noted on Network Rail’s register as built in 1863. Photo c/o John Reay
Below: The two girders and two handrail sections after unloading at Beamish.
There is no immediate plan for the bridge at Beamish, though a number of ideas spring to mind. One option is perhaps to use it to create improved wheelchair/buggy access to Rowley Station. Obviously the role of the bridge pieces saved would be largely cosmetic, but it would create a very impressive feature and is a remarkable survivor. We are very grateful to Network Rail for donating it to Beamish and all of those involved in removing it and moving it to Beamish.