A metal and stone bridge carrying the Hanslope-Northampton-Rugby Loop Line (Network Rail reference HNR Bridge No. 69) constructed in 1877 across the north ride of Watford Park, held at that time by Lord Henley who is said to have influenced the bridge's design.
Reason for Listing
The Pulpit Bridge (Bridge No. 69), Watford Park, Northamptonshire is designated Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural: the unusual pulpit or armchair features and decorative metalwork in the spandrels are well-executed and distinctive and comparable in detailing to listed examples in Derby and Wigan
* Intactness: despite maintenance as an operational railway bridge, the principal structure and decorative elements remain and have clear aesthetic merit
* Group Value: the bridge has group value with other designated assets within the former estate of Watford Court
Bridge No.69, known locally as the Pulpit Bridge or the Armchair Bridge because of its distinctive parapet features, was built in 1877 by the London and North Western Railway. It is believed that Anthony, Lord Henley of Watford Court (1825-1898) contributed to the design of the bridge which carried the new line across Watford Park's north ride. The bridge is said to have been a private railway halt for Lord Henley, who was first elected as MP for Northampton in 1859, enabling him to attend Parliament. It is also a landscape structure in its own right. Henley was a lay rector who is believed to have taken Rogation Services for estate workers on or near to the north ride, reflected in some of the bridge's design motifs and its colloquial name.
The bridge is little altered, although it is said that some of the ornamental iron features that had deteriorated beyond repair were removed in 1934. The bridge is an integral part of the Northampton Loop of the Main West Coast Line and as such has been maintained regularly, particularly the decking, as drawings supplied by the applicant indicate. It is anticipated that the structure will be repainted and repairs made to the brickwork in the 2015/2016 financial year.
MATERIALS: the main materials are brick, stone and metal.
EXTERIOR: the single-span brick bridge rests on a coursed, stone plinth and has projecting, canted brick abutments faced in stone, adjoining brick wings. The abutments have moulded stone bases and copings and are carved with recessed, round-headed panels similar in style to lancet windows; a motif continued in the balustrade above. The metal, four-centred arches facing north and south have foliate designs and the Henley Coat of Arms in the spandrels. Above are balustrades with interleaving arch motifs culminating in stepped projections surmounting the abutments. Reminiscent of the form of pulpits, or armchairs, these projections have decorative banding, finials and open lancet-type openings.
Beneath the bridge is a metal gate hanging on two decorative posts with railings on either side, marking the existing entrance into the park.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.