View Full Version : Archived: Bowstring Bridge, Leicester

04-01-2009, 03:54 PM
Paid a visit here on my own today as there was no one else about to expore with and I was bored :lol:
A bit of history first...

The Great Central Railway, which opened in 1899, crossed Leicester on a 190ft wide Staffordshire blue brick viaduct, over a mile and a half long and linked by a series of fine girder bridges. The network of bridges began to the north of the River Soar and included two "bowstring" style bridges. The first in Northgate Street was demolished in 1981 but the second, spanning Braunstone Gate, still remains. Known locally as the "Bowstring Bridge", it contains steel lattice girders of 175 feet and 136 feet in length, and weighs in excess of 400 tons. The bridge has been described as "unique" from an engineering point of view as the main supports on either side are not parallel, meaning that the two supporting bowstrings had to be of different lengths. The bridge was built by Henry Lovatt of Wolverhampton and is one of the last surviving girder structures from the Great Central's London Extension. Following the closure of the Great Central in 1969, much of the railway infrastructure in Leicester was demolished. A surviving section of the line from Duns Lane to Glen Parva, including the Bowstring Bridge, was purchased by Leicester City Council in the 1970s for a token payment. The Council subsequently received a Manpower Services Commission grant to engage craftsmen to supervise young people painting the bridge in green and cream colours. The bridge, viaduct and land nearby, including the Pump and Tap pub, were later sold to De Montfort University whose university campus adjoins the site of the Bowstring Bridge. The council illegally closed the public footpath over the bridge many years ago, allowing the bridge to fall into disrepair in the hope its scruffy appearance would aid the case for demolition. De Montfort university plan to flatten the lot to make way for a swimming pool to compliment their sports hall. The Victorian Bowstring railway bridge will be destroyed along with the viaduct, the arches, and possibly the nearby pub as well.

Bridge under construction


The arches

Lattice girder bridge

On the viaduct