Tall, triple-arch skew road overbridge with semi-elliptical spans, set in a cutting, erected c.1845-47.
Reason for Listing
Bath Road Bridge is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Selectivity: a triple-arch skew overbridge with semi-elliptical arches; in this case it is unusually high, built to span a deep cutting;
* Design, engineering & material interest: built to the high standard employed for brick-built bridges of this date; intact outer faces, semi-elliptical arches and arch rings, with slightly heightened, patched and repaired parapets; similar to Tilehurst Bridge which was constructed with internal voids and spine walls that reduce the weight of the superstructure and carry the carriageway;
* Historic interest: built 1845-7, shortly after the main line by the Hampshire and Berkshire Railway for the Reading-Newbury line, probably by an assistant engineer to Brunel’s earlier specification; the drawings survive;
* Group Value: forms an impressive pair with the similar and contemporary Tilehurst Road Bridge.
The railway line from Reading to Newbury, opened in 1847, was the outcome of a dispute between the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the London and South Western Railway about the provision of a railway to Newbury. The GWR originally proposed to reach the town by a branch from the main line at Pangbourne, but eventually settled on the present route. This was built by a subsidiary company to the GWR, the Berkshire and Hampshire Railway. The engineer was Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-59) who, as with the main line, designed the line on the broad gauge. Having previously dismissed the idea of a route to Bristol via Newbury and the Vale of Pewsey he did not regard this as a major project: it only became part of the direct GWR route to Exeter in 1906. It is not known who was the Resident Engineer for the project.
Bath Road Bridge was erected during the construction of the line c. 1845-7 to carry the London-Bristol turnpike (now the A4) south-west of Reading.
In one or more phases in the late-C19 and mid to late-C20 some patching and refacing, and other minor alterations, have been carried out in engineering brick. In the last few decades, steel footbridges have been built alongside on both sides.
MATERIALS: original handmade red brick. Red engineering brick used for patching and for alterations to the parapets. English bond. Limestone copings.
DESCRIPTION: the central arch is slightly taller than the side arches. Dimensions appear to be similar to those of the neighbouring and contemporary Tilehurst Road Bridge (BKE3709), which has a central span of 38ft 4in and c. 30ft side arches. The carriageway is 24ft [7.3m] between parapets. The piers are tapered and were originally pierced by three tapering transverse arches. These arches have been blocked up with brick so they now read as blind arches. At least one tie plate is visible in the north (low mileage) face. Abutments/wing walls are vertical and straight. A stepped string course runs across each face and above the outer face of the parapet is stepped. They have been raised in the C20 by two courses of red engineering brick above the original coping left in-situ and have steeply pitched purple brick copings with small anti-climb spikes. The parapets are also rebuilt in red engineering brick at the ends, possibly in connection with the construction of the entrances to the modern steel footbridges which flank the bridge on both sides (these are not attached.) In particular, the east end of the south (high mileage) parapet was truncated and rebuilt in engineering brick so that it curves back on a concrete raft to form part of the entrance to the southern footbridge. The modern steel footbridges are not of special interest.
The bridge is generally not visible in the wider landscape because it was designed to span a cutting. However, it is mutually visible with Tilehurst Road Bridge (BKE3709).
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.