Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Flowerpot Railway Bridge, Exeter

From Graces Guide
2021
JD Flowerpots Br 2.jpg
This clearly shows the old stone arch, later brick arch and brick base to take the arch thrust, and the brick spandrels
Upstream side. The 'teeth' are not there for decoration. They simply result from the staggering of the brickwork joints

This may not be the official name for the railway bridge between Exwick Playing Fields and Flowerpot Playing Fields.

See here for photo and map.

It was originally a three-arch masonry bridge carrying the railway line between St. Thomas Station and St David's Station in Exeter. It appears to have been built to cross a water course and a road or track. If there was an established waterway (see below), is long gone, but the piers' cutwaters remain as a reminder of the former presence of flowing water. The topography around the bridge has been changed by the deposition of spoil.

A point of interest lies in the fact that at some point one of the arches was removed and replaced by a plate girder bridge. This would have imposed thrust loading on the remaining portion of the pier. For this reason, and perhaps to increase the load capacity of the bridge, additional brick arches were constructed beneath the original stone arches. The gaps (spandrels) between the old and new arches were infilled with brickwork at the exposed faces, and by some other method within. The spandrels on opposite sides of the arch are not symmetrical.

The additional arch brickwork is in three layers, which were laid parallel (rather than in helical courses, which would be difficult in this situation). An open wooden formwork would have been needed during construction of the new arches, with planks inserted to support the bricks as work progressed.

Thanks to the author of this article for pointing out that this is a more interesting bridge than might first appear.[1]

Does the following article refer to the same bridge?......

1844 'THE RAILWAYS FLOODED AT EXETER .... At Stoke bridge, about forty yards of the railroad bad been carried away. As it was, the whole of St. Thomas's Marshes were inundated to the depth in some places of several feet; and the overflow, kept by the continuation of the South Devon Railway, out of the accustomed channel along the banks, found a new course, at the back of marshes, and through the Skew Bridge, which has been raised over the Exwick and Foxhayes pathway. We stood on the Skew Bridge at five o'clock in the afternoon, when the vast sheet of water above, and the impetuous rushing through the channel under our feet, formed a novel and striking scene. Near us, the raised bank crumbled away piece-meal; in a short time many yards were washed down, and a few hours after the beautiful Skew Bridge yielded to the torrent, and its three arches were swept sway. On the side most exposed, there is not one stone left on another. Western Times.'[2]

If the 1844 does relate to this bridge, the statement that the bridge 'has been raised over the Exwick and Foxhayes pathway' may imply that there was no waterway there at the time the bridge was built. Why, then, were cutwaters provided on the piers? Parhaps they were an afterthought when the bridge was first rebuilt?


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Devon Buildings Group: 23rd Annual Conference, 14 June 2008: Devon Bridges, p.13
  2. Western Courier, West of England Conservative, Plymouth and Devonport Advertiser - Wednesday 20 November 1844