Oxford’s Swing Bridge, one of only two moving bridges on the river Thames (the other being Tower Bridge), has been fully repaired and finally removed from the Heritage at Risk Register after an extensive project to restore it to its former glory.
The disused railway bridge over Sheepwash Channel close to Oxford railway station, was designed by the engineer Robert Stephenson and built in 1850-1. A Scheduled Monument, the bridge is an important because of its unique site and involvement in the history of the nation’s railways.
However, it had been disused for many years after being closed to passenger traffic in 1951 and to goods in 1984, and was suffering from severe decay. (see above pic)
The bridge was then added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 2013 and in 2020, ownership of the bridge was transferred from Network Rail to the Oxford Preservation Trust.
Following funding from Historic England, Network Rail, the Railway Heritage Trust and fundraising by the Preservation Trust, the repair work to the structure was completed in summer 2022.
And now The London Midland and Scottish Railway Swing Bridge has been rescued for future generations.
Debbie Dance, Oxford Preservation Trust director, said: “This was the last chance for this significant piece of the nation’s railway heritage, and Oxford’s town’s industrial heritage. It feels important to have secured the bridge so that it can tell its story for future generations.”
“It has been a joy to work with the craftsmen who so carefully dismantled the bridge, repairing and recasting, and then putting it all back together like a giant jigsaw, thanks to Historic England and our other funders.”
Historic England published its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022 this week highlighting England’s most valued historic places and those most at risk of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Over the past year, 11 historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in the South East because of their deteriorating condition and 11 have been saved and their futures secured.
Historic England has awarded close to £1 million in repair grants to 18 historic places and sites, including conservation areas, in the South East on the Heritage at Risk Register over the past year.