A complex multi-arch L-shaped masonry bridge structure built in 1870 for the Midland Railway's Chesterfield to Sheffield line, to the designs of the railway company's Engineer-in-Chief J.S. Crossley. An attached C20, timber footbridge leading to Dronfield Station is not of special interest.
Reason for Listing
Lea Road Bridge, built in 1870 for the Midland Railway's Chesterfield and Sheffield line, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Engineering interest: the bridge is one of the most complex railway bridge structures built by the railway company between Derby and Sheffield.
* Architectural interest: the stonework of the bridge is carefully finished and reflects a continuing tradition of high quality railway structures designed for the Midland Railway's Chesterfield and Sheffield line.
* Historic interest: the bridge forms part of a significant stage in the completion of the Midland Railway line between London and Sheffield, designed by J.S.Crossley, the railway company's Engineer-in-Chief and one of the most notable railway engineers of the day.
The Midland Main Line is the outcome of a number of historic construction phases undertaken by different railway companies. The first two phases were carried out simultaneously between 1836 and 1840 by the North Midland Railway and the Midland Counties Railway. The North Midland Railway, which operated between Derby and Chesterfield and onwards to Rotherham and Leeds, was pre-eminently the work of George (1781-1848) and Robert Stephenson (1803-1859) who, along with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, are the most renowned engineers of this pioneering phase of railway development. They worked closely with the Assistant Engineer, Frederick Swanwick (1810-1885). The railway’s architect Francis Thompson (1808-1895) designed stations and other railway buildings along the line. The less demanding route for the Midland Counties Railway, which ran between Derby and Nottingham to Leicester and on to Rugby, was surveyed by Charles Blacker Vignoles (1793-1875) who was engineer to a large number of railway projects. These two companies (along with the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway) did not yield the expected profits, partly because of the fierce competition between them. This led to the three companies merging into the Midland Railway in 1844 which constituted the first large scale railway amalgamation. The next part of the line from Leicester to Bedford and on to Hitchin was constructed between 1853 and 1857 by the engineer Charles Liddell (c.1813-1894) and specialist railway architect Charles Henry Driver (1832-1900). In 1862 the decision was made to extend the line from Bedford to London which was again the responsibility of Liddell, except for the final fourteen miles into London and the design of the terminus at St Pancras (listed at Grade I) which was undertaken by William Barlow (1812-1902). Additional routes were then added from Chesterfield to Sheffield in 1870, and from Kettering to Corby in 1879. The most important changes to the infrastructure of the Midland Railway were the rebuilding of its principal stations and the increasing of the line’s capacity, involving the quadrupling of some stretches of the route south of the Trent from the early 1870s to the 1890s.
In 1870, a direct line linking Chesterfield and Sheffield via Dronfield and the Drone and Sheaf valleys, was completed. The line was one of a number of major expansion projects pursued under Engineer-in-Chief J. S. Crossley; the best known of these being the Settle to Carlisle Line (1869-76). The line involved the construction of a substantial tall viaduct at Unstone and the lengthy Bradway tunnel, as well as a series of substantial masonry bridges which replicated the form and detailing of earlier bridges on the Derby to Chesterfield section of the line. As the line approached Sheffield Midland Station, it was carried on a stone-lined embankment through Heeley of a scale and quality of construction reminiscent of the earlier embanked section of the line at Bull Bridge.
The railway was taken through the centre of Dronfield, passing just below its medieval parish church and severing the town’s historic street pattern. The manner in which it is woven into the fabric of the settlement is now part of Dronfield’s historic character.
A stone overbridge including an approach road and span over the River Drone, at the northern end of Dronfield Station, 1870 for the Midland Railway, built to the designs of J.S. Crossley.
MATERIALS: snecked, quarry-faced Derbyshire gritstone walling, tooled ashlar dressings and red brick soffit linings.
DESCRIPTION: the bridge is L-shape in plan, and consists of two segmental arches spanning the railway and cutting, a ramped approach road at right angles on the east side, and three further segmental arches, including one over the River Drone. The principal section consists of one span over the railway, and a smaller, approach arch spanning the west embankment. Both arches share the same detailing, typical of bridges on this section of the line, with V-jointed punch-dressed stepped voussoirs and drafted margins. The voussoirs return as elongated ashlar quoining to the brick soffit linings. The arches spring from pick-faced impost blocks and integral impost bands with tooled margins and chamfered upper arrises. A similar string course runs across the bridge face above the arches. This and the parapet are curved, following the road alignment. The parapet has steeply-curved, pick-dressed copings with drafted margins and hipped ends. All other stonework, including the abutments and spandrels, is snecked and quarry-faced.
The bridge faces terminate at raking piers with shallow, hipped copings set beneath the parapet coping. Abutting these, with a straight joint on the west side, are walls of squared masonry flanking the approach road. On the east side, the bridge extends beyond the piers and then turns sharply to the north forming a ramped approach to Chesterfield Road. Within the curved section of the flanking wall is a segmental arch spanning the River Drone. The approach road is articulated by four piers, and there are two segmental arches between the middle two piers. The last section has a lower parapet, possibly altered, with modern steel railings. An opening in the south parapet at the top of the approach road wall gives access to a C20, timber footbridge leading to Dronfield Station.
Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)
Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the C20 timber footbridge leading to Dronfield Station is not of special architectural or historic interest.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.