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Author Topic: Permissive path - Purley / Pangbourne AND Access bridges to farms and fields  (Read 2935 times)
Marlburian
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« on: March 27, 2020, 02:19:28 pm »

Header added by Grahame - 5th April 2020

This original thread looked at access bridges to farms and fields drifted and became more specific to the Purley and Pangbourne areas.

If you are looking for the original topic od access bridges to farms and fields, start  here at the start

If you are looking for the Purley / Pangbourne specific data, start at http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=23147.msg285233#msg285233




Marlburian originally writes ....

Walking along disused railway lines I sometimes cross over a bridge that gave access to fields or farms. Usually the line had been single-track, but even so the bridge, of stone or brick, must have taken a lot of manpower, including skilled brickies, to erect. Where the access was to fields, more often than not, it is now blocked by mature trees, scrub and so on.

I wonder if the need to provide such access was a legal obligation on the builders, or was it a matter of negotiation with the landowner? (I think that the maintenance of such all-but-redundant structures is a responsibility of Network Rail?)

Today I walked down Portman Road in Reading, alongside the railway, and was struck by what was almost a tunnel leading to Little John's Farm. It's long enough to have at least six tracks running on top of it and must have taken a heck of a lot of time and money to build, just to serve one farm. It would have been easier and cheaper to extend Wigmore Lane or to provide new access from Cow Lane.

No doubt access to farms and fields has to be allowed for in the building of HS2, though at least modern techniques makes the construction of bridges easier and cheaper.

EDIT: Just remembered that later in the morning I passed under a bridge about 700m north-west of Pangbourne Station off the A329. The spot rejoices in the name of Sot's Hole.  As soon as one has gone under it, one is confronted by steeply-rising ground, up which a narrow public footpath leads. Seems another extravagance. A vehicle can pass under, but then has nowhere to go.

Just looked at some old maps. There seems to have been a building there at one time, so that may have justified the bridge.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 02:35:40 pm by grahame » Logged
Reginald25
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2020, 03:33:09 pm »

There are a few locally  that I particularly like. One is a pedestrian underpass in a field very near Chippenham station but on the Calne branch. The second is under the M4 where the old Midland railway used to go towards Bath and Bristol (it must have cost quite a bit to build yet the line was closed probably before the M4 got built, its now the end of a freight branch). I was always fascinated by the pedestrian underpass at Radstock, which was still there when I last wandered around a few years ago, yet the railway went many years past (it may have now gone I believe there is some redevelopment).
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 04:08:24 pm »

The second is under the M4 where the old Midland railway used to go towards Bath and Bristol (it must have cost quite a bit to build yet the line was closed probably before the M4 got built, its now the end of a freight branch).
That's at the end of the Westerleigh oil terminal, operated by Murco I think. It's also used for driver training, I think. I'm sure someone here will know more accurately than I do exactly what goes on there. From the way the tracks end exactly in line with the southern boundary of the motorway, I got the impression the motorway was built before it closed, but I haven't actually checked the history. It was closed off until a few years ago when the path alongside was opened up as part of the 'Yate extension' to the Bristol ring road cycle path.
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ellendune
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 05:00:36 pm »

I wonder if the need to provide such access was a legal obligation on the builders, or was it a matter of negotiation with the landowner? (I think that the maintenance of such all-but-redundant structures is a responsibility of Network Rail?)

I believe it was a legal obligation in many cases.

Structures on redundant lines were left with BR (Residuary Body) when Railtrack took over. They subsequently passed to Highway England (at least in England).
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eightonedee
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2020, 10:14:39 pm »

Quote
I believe it was a legal obligation in many cases.

Yes - there's an obscure area of law here. I think in broad terms it arose from the fact that early railway projects each had to have its own private act of parliament which had to be at the end of a process of negotiation with landowners across whose land the new lines were to be laid. When the volume of schemes became so great that Parliament thought it prudent to introduce what were effectively standard rules for safeguarding the interests of those whose land would be affected, incorporated in what became a section of The Railway Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 as follows, the works described being generally known as accommodation works, a concept carried over into all kinds of public works-

Quote
68Gates, bridges, &c.
The company shall make and at all times thereafter maintain the following works for the accommodation of the owners and occupiers of lands adjoining the railway; (that is to say,)Such and so many convenient gates, bridges, arches, culverts, and passages, over, under, or by the sides of or leading to or from the railway, as shall be necessary for the purpose of making good any interruptions caused by the railway to the use of the lands through which the railway shall be made; and such works shall be made forthwith after the part of the railway passing over such lands shall have been laid out or formed, or during the formation thereof;Also sufficient posts, rails, hedges, ditches, mounds, or other fences, for separating the land taken for the use of the railway from the adjoining lands not taken, and protecting such lands from trespass, or the cattle of the owners or occupiers thereof from straying thereout, by reason of the railway, together with all necessary gates, made to open towards such adjoining lands, and not towards the railway, and all necessary stiles; and such posts, rails, and other fences shall be made forthwith after the taking of any such lands, if the owners thereof shall so require, and the said other works as soon as conveniently may be:Also all necessary arches, tunnels, culverts, drains, or other passages, either over or under or by the sides of the railway, of such dimensions as will be sufficient at all times to convey the water as clearly from the lands lying near or affected by the railway as before the making of the railway, or as nearly so as may be; and such works shall be made from time to time as the railway works proceed:Also proper watering places for cattle where by reason of the railway the cattle of any person occupying any lands lying near thereto shall be deprived of access to their former watering places; and such watering places shall be so made as to be at all times as sufficiently supplied with water as theretofore, and as if the railway had not been made, or as nearly so as may be; and the company shall make all necessary watercourses and drains for the purpose of conveying water to the said watering places:Provided always, that the company shall not be required to make such accommodation works in such a manner as would prevent or obstruct the working or using of the railway, nor to make any accommodation works with respect to which the owners and occupiers of the lands shall have agreed to receive and shall have been paid compensation instead of the making them.
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Umberleigh
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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2020, 09:38:59 am »

Moving on slightly, Chelfham viaduct, the largest narrow gauge structure in England but which hasnít seen a train since the Lynton & Barnstaple was closed in 1935. Ownership passed to BRB and then Highways England (as stated above).

Now a Grade 2 listed structure, Itís considered likely that the viaduct escaped demolition due to the proximity of houses and a school underneath (a smaller viaduct on the line was not so lucky). The viaduct underwent restoration work in 2000 that was part funded by the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway preservationists and saw the parapets restored and other works to enable trains to cross it in the future. The present Lynton & Barnstaple Railway own and have restored Chelfham station to the immediate North of the viaduct and, along with Exmoor Associates, also own a surprising amount of the former trackbed between Snapper Halt (now beautifully restored) and Chelfham). The one thing missing are trains, but I hope to see it happen in my lifetime
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eightf48544
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2020, 04:07:41 pm »

There is a fantastic skew brick built bridge near Whitchurch over the Llangollen canal. The brickwork is immaculate with mathematically precise courses forming a  a double curved arch.
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Marlburian
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2020, 01:08:47 pm »

An authority on the MSWJR has emailed me the following:

"With regard to access to farms and fields, the form of crossing depends on what was agreed with the landowners and local councils when the railway company obtained its original Act, with the railway trying to minimise expenditure and the locals trying to avoid risky crossings.  When the Swindon & Cheltenham Railway was proposed, they kept the local council happy by promising to provide bridges for all the proper roads, hence the costly road viaducts around South Cerney where the road and railway met more or less on the level.  Farm tracks were much more dependent on the local landowners.  Although Farfield Lane, just north of Blunsdon, only led to a couple of farms, it was provided with a bridge.  However Rebbeck's Farm, 1 mile north of Rushey Platt, only had an occupation crossing, which resulted in a lad being killed in 1891 as he was trying to lead a horse across the crossing."
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smokey
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« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2020, 02:39:31 pm »

Up in the Cold Frozen North, well Whitby North Yorkshire, there is a Miniature "Railway" Tunnel on the footpath leading up from the Harbour to Bay Royal Whitby Hotel.

Built under order of the Railway King (or villain) George Hudson, it's an interesting thing to study, but beware of the "light at the end of the tunnel" it could be a train coming or if Red light it's a visit by Count Dracula.
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stuving
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« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2020, 04:30:35 pm »

I have a book based on the board minutes of the RGRR* and it's full of this kind of thing. While a railway act conferred compulsory purchase powers, a deal had to be made with every landowner, agreeing accommodation crossings or money in compensation. Simpler disagreements were settled by calling a local jury, which was unpredictable (well, juries were) and generally worth avoiding by both sides. Difficult matters and arguments about interpretation of the railway's act went to the court of chancery, for example in 1842 to decide whether an act empowering the Northern and Eastern Railway to arch over streets in Shoreditch to carry a railway also allowed then to do so for a station. Ruling - yes, as stations are needed for a railway to be of any use.

An example from the RGRR was the Rev. Mr Morres of Wokingham whose house (and some others) were served by a road which he claimed was a public road and so by the act should have a 20 ft wide bridge. His argument turned on its status before land enclosure, and whether that legally stopped up the rights of way continuing his lane or not. He was prepared to settle for 13 ft and a part of the money the company saved by that - but the company reckoned they could ignore him, strike terms with his neighbours, and say "see you in court". In the end they offered £25 - rejected - and settled for £40.

Then there was the case where the RGRR agreed and paid £400 in lieu of a bridge, but it was built anyway as the supervising engineer wasn't told about the changed plan. He of course complained about not being told, saying it had cost twice that to build. He suggested that if the money couldn't be recovered by the usual means (sweet-talking, threats of legal action, and I suspect some others) he would pull the bridge down and use the materials elsewhere.

* Reading, Guildford & Reigate Railway Company
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Marlburian
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 11:59:59 am »

This morning I walked along the permissive path running alongside the railway between Purley and Pangbourne and noticed a bridge merely allowing movement between two fields. The enhanced fencing of a few years ago has blocked it off.
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2020, 02:30:45 pm »

This morning I walked along the permissive path running alongside the railway between Purley and Pangbourne and noticed a bridge merely allowing movement between two fields. The enhanced fencing of a few years ago has blocked it off.

Could it be a drain across a bourne?
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Marlburian
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« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2020, 03:10:09 pm »

No, the access under the bridge is/was large enough for a sizeable vehicle (certainly by Victorian standards) to pass through. There were a couple of modern triangular height-restriction notices on "my" side, though I didn't bother to note the specified height.  Perhaps not quite enough room for a double-decker bus to squeeze through - not that such a vehicle would ever have been there.

The embankment there is quite high - a little further on, in the outskirts of Pangbourne, one can look down from a train onto people's roofs.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2020, 07:15:05 pm »

This bridge connected two parts of what was Scarces Farm, Purley. I would imagine that when it was put in as part of the original construction of the line it was needed so that farm wagons could get to the fields that became separated to the south of the railway from the rest of the farm longer was the farm to the north.

Scraces Farm was a working farm until (if I recall correctly) the early 1980s, when it was acquired by an overseas investor and farmed by contractors or other farmers so that the farmstead north of the railway was no longer was the focus of a working farm. I think that's when the fence was first erected preventing access which is from a public right of way at this point (the permissive path is only the last stretch up to the Westbury Lane railway bridge).
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Reading General
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« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2020, 07:45:27 pm »

There is another underbridge at Purley next to the Marina that appears to go nowhere when you view it from the train as the housing on the southern side is slightly higher than the railway at this point while the Marina is down low. The only thing I can think it would be is Purley Park House's access to land belonging to them on the northern side of the line. I'm aware that the estate once had a subway under the Oxford Road near the Roebuck for access to their land that I guess was put in when the Oxford Road was diverted for the railway.
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