A railway under bridge and wing walls, built c.1838-40 by the engineer Captain William Scarth Morsom, with assistance from Herbert Spencer, for the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Company.
Reason for Listing
The railway under bridge, built c.1838-40 by William Scarth Moorsom, with the assistance of Herbert Spencer, for the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway Company, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: it dates from the construction of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway in c.1838-40, during the pioneering first phase of railway development.
* Architectural interest: its use of rock-faced rustication gives it an ornamental design interest over and above the more standardised and plainer early railway bridges.
* Engineering interest: as a structure associated with the Lickey Incline which, when opened in 1840, was the steepest inclined railway plane in the world.
* Intactness: as a substantially intact example of a railway under bridge from the pioneering first phase of railway development.
* Historical association: the bridge is constructed to a design by the engineer Captain William Scarth Moorsom, with the assistance of Herbert Spencer, later to become one of the foremost philosophers, social theorist, and sociologists of the Victorian era.
The Birmingham & Gloucester Railway was established by Act of Parliament in 1836 and opened in 1840. It was engineered by Captain William Scarth Moorsom (1804-1863) who, after service in Nova Scotia as a military engineer and surveyor with the 52nd Light Infantry, bought his release from the army in 1832. In 1833 Moorsom was asked to survey a route for a proposed railway from Birmingham to Gloucester by Messers Sturge, corn merchants. As the railway directors were almost exclusively concerned with trade between the two cities, Moorsom was asked to survey the most direct route. However, the abrupt change of level occurring south-west of Birmingham, where the line would have to descend 300ft (91.4m) from the Lickey Hills to reach Bromsgrove, presented a major physical difficulty. Initial thoughts suggested that this could be avoided by a detour and both Isambard Kingdom Brunel and George Stephenson, when consulted, favoured this option. However, the directors of the railway company, striving for the cheapest possible option, accepted Moorsom's proposal of an inclined plane, rising upwards of 300 feet (91.4m) in little more than two miles (3.2km), or at the rate of 1 in 37.7 (2.65%). Construction work on the railway began in 1836 with work on the incline, later to be known as the Lickey Incline, starting in late 1838. Assisting Moorsom with the incline and its associated railway structures was the engineer Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) who, after resigning from railway service in 1846, was to become one of the great philosophers of the Victorian era. With some 240,000 cubic yards (183,493 cubic metres) of earth excavated, the steepest inclined plane then known in the world opened to through trains on 17 September 1840. As well as being unwavering in his chosen route, Moorsom was also adamant that the incline should be worked by locomotive engines throughout, rather than stationary engines. With no British manufacture able to supply him with locomotives, American 4-2-0 engines were imported from the Norris Locomotive Works, Philadelphia. However, the incline remained a serious hindrance to traffic until diesel traction supplanted steam.
A railway under bridge and wing walls, built c.1838-40 by the engineer Captain William Scarth Morsom, with assistance from Herbert Spencer, for the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway Company.
MATERIALS: Coursed rock-faced local sandstone.
DESCRIPTION: A double-span viaduct accommodating a small stream under the Lickey Incline. It consists of two semi-circular arched spans of carefully built stonework rising from dressed springing stones. The intrados is of unaltered stone and, to the north-west and south-east, there are opposing wing walls with terminal piers and late-C20 coping. Light steel safety rails were installed in the C20 to form a parapet.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.