Mountsorrel bridge

Mountsorrel bridge

To serve the pink granite quarries around Mountsorrel, a single-track branch was pushed westwards from the Midland Counties Railway at Barrow-upon-Soar, authorised by a Parliamentary Act of 1858. It cost £14,000 per mile. Horse-drawn traffic started flowing two years later and 200 tonnes of granite was soon being hauled along it daily. The line was extended westwards to reach the Great Central at Swithland Sidings in 1896, the network eventually comprising around 8½ miles of industrial lines.

The system fell into disuse during the 1950s and the track was lifted a decade later. Today the trackbed’s eastern section hosts a conveyorr, linking Buddon Wood quarry with a loading complex and sidings adjacent to the Midland Main line. The GC end has recently been occupied by a heritage operation, relaying 1¼ miles of track.

The railway’s pre-eminent structure was an 80-yard long red-brick bridge over the River Soar, opened in 1860 – a date which features within the brickwork of the spandrels on both sides. Comprising it is a main span of almost 90 feet with eight brick rings – considered one of the country’s finest – as well as two small side spans on the river’s north bank and another on the south side. They carried the railway at a height of 25 feet. Blind arched niches are built into the king piers and abutments whilst the pier between the two north-bank spans has weight-reducing archways through it which align with blind arches in the adjacent piers. The structure is architecturally detailed with moulded brick bands and ashlar copings above the piers. Telegraph wire brackets remain extant on the east elevation. At the north end of the structure, curved rubblework retaining walls hold back the approach embankment.

This handsome local landmark was given a Grade II listing in 1984. However its condition is a cause for concern due to inappropriate repair techniques which have accelerated the deterioration of the brick faces: the render has blown in places and is missing altogether elsewhere

July 2014