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GWR Route: Stratford on Avon to Honeybourne

Stratford-on-Avon Racecourse Platform: gwr_src2616

The Pratt truss lattice girder bridge in the final stages of construction at Stannals, south of Stratford-upon-Avon

The Pratt truss lattice girder bridge in the final stages of construction at Stannals, south of Stratford-upon-Avon. Notice the temporary supporting piers in the river. The doubling of the Honeybourne to Stratford line required this new 114 feet 6 inch long lattice girder bridge to be constructed on the skew over the River Avon at Stannals, while a nine arch brick viaduct was built across the adjacent flood plain. According to ‘The design of Typical Steel Railway Bridges’ published in 1908, the through Pratt truss lattice girder bridge was the most economic bridge design for spans between 125 feet and 175 feet.

The nine and half mile long single track Stratford branch from the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway had been authorised in 1846, but delays caused by land purchases in the vicinity of Norton Hall meant the route had to be revised and work did not start until February 1859. Fortunately the construction was straightforward and the single track line opened six months later on 11th July 1859. The largest structure on the line – the bridge over the Avon was constructed as a single track viaduct with eight 25 foot flood spans and two 50 foot main spans over the river, This original viaduct was constructed by Thomas Clunes of the Vulcan Iron Works, in Worcester.

In mid 1906, a contract for £25,228 4s 2d was awarded to Walter Scott & Middleton Ltd of Westminster for widening the seven and a quarter mile section of the branch between Honeybourne and the East & West Junction Signal Box. This company had also recently completed the 20 miles of new double track from Honeybourne to Cheltenham. The largest civil structure was the replacement Avon bridge and the steelwork for the new Pratt truss lattice girder bridge was provided by E Finch & Co of Chepstow, at a cost of £1,703 4s 3d. During the doubling work, the branch remained operational, but on 12th August 1907 an accident occurred while hoisting one of the bridge girders. This dropped on to the line blocking it for 24 hours. The doubling work was finally completed on 9th February 1908.

Robert Ferris