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Severn Bridge Railway Company


Records of the Severn Bridge Railway Company: specification for a viaduct 1874, contract for railway construction 1875, plans of swing bridge over canal 1870s.



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Administrative /‚Äč Biographical history

In July 1872 an Act was passed authorising the building of the Severn Bridge, to provide an easier and cheaper route for coal to be transported from the Forest of Dean. The five-mile railway went from Lydney Junction to join the Midland Railway's line at Berkeley Road. It crossed the River Severn at Purton to Sharpness. The bridge was designed by George W Keeling and George Wells Owen, who were appointed engineers. The chairman was W C Lucy. Work began in July 1875, having been delayed by the high cost of materials and disagreements between Midland Railway and Great Western Railway over the amount the former could subscribe. Shortly after work started, it was decided to double the track over the bridge, as the extra cost then would be little compared to the costs and inconvenience of modifying it later. Previously, people had crossed the river at Purton either on foot (resulting in many deaths by drowning) or by paying to be taken over by boat. As the railway bridge had a footpath, the crossing service became obsolete. The railway company compensated the owners and employed the ferrymen. In April 1878 a Bill was put forward proposing the amalgamation of the Severn Bridge Railway Company and the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company. Amalgamation was considered the best way for the two small companies to avoid absorbtion into the larger companies that controlled the railways around them, and thus creating a monopoly. The bridge opened in October 1879, and the company was immediately amalgamated with the Severn and Wye Railway to form the Severn and Wye and Severn Bridge Railway Company. For further information on the Severn Bridge Railway see Ron Huxley's 'The Rise & Fall of the Severn Bridge Railway 1872-1970'.

System of arrangement

It has not been possible to ascertain any original structure of record-keeping from the small number of records held for this company. The fonds has therefore been arranged in chronological order.