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Saturday 31 December 2016

Mythe Railway Bridge

One of the most impressive pieces of architecture on the Malvern-Ashchurch branch line was the brick arch bridge which crossed the River Avon just north of Tewkesbury. Upon exiting the Mythe Tunnel west of the town, the line rose on a gentle embankment to reach the bridge, which flew over the river via a small spit in the centre of the waterway.

The bridge itself can be seen in the bottom right corner of this picture from 1947, albeit with the western section cut off from the edge of the shot. The railway line can also be seen as it crosses the north of Tewkesbury town to arrive at the second station built in the town in 1864. Further back can be seen the original station on the Quays branch line, built in 1840.

The embankment and several small bridges leading up to the main river crossing were removed in 2013 as part of a package of works designed to reduce the likelihood of flooding in Tewkesbury, but a few important remnants of the original bridge remain today. The western section of the brick bridge still stands, and the buttresses on either end of the 'town' side section also remain intact, albeit now linked only by a metal frame. Meanwhile, the spit itself is now the property of Tewkesbury Marina, placing the bridge on private land.

Approaching Tewkesbury along the A38 Mythe Road, an earthern ramp appears along the northern side of the roadway. This is the remaining section of embankment which was left by the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water after their demolition of the embankment in 2013. Luckily, the chilly Boxing Day weather was enough to keep away the clouds and provide a good light to see across the field!

The remaining section of embankment, north-west of Tewkesbury.
The embankment from further along the Mythe Road.
Looking eastwards across the field towards Tewkesbury, the arches of the original brick bridge become visible in the distance. We continue our walk down Mythe Road, heading on to the road bridge that connects Tewkesbury with Worcestershire.

The bridge arches in the distance.
The bridge closer up.
The western bridge section, 1/2.
The clearest view of the western bridge section, 2/2.
This next picture shows the entire span of the former bridge in context: the western section on the left remains intact, while the 'town' section to the east has been dismembered. Stanchard House, part of Tewkesbury Marina, is clearly visible on the central spit.

A view of the entire river.
Looking closely at the eastern section of the old bridge, we see that all everything but the buttresses on either bank have been dismantled. Nonetheless, even these relics give an idea of what the original bridge must have looked like.

The buttresses supporting what was the eastern section of the bridge.
The buttress on the spit.
The 'town' side buttress on the eastern bank.
The view from King John's Bridge.

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