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Crawshaw Woods (Shippen House Farm) bridge, HUL4/20

A Grade II Listed Building in Cross Gates and Whinmoor, Leeds

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Latitude: 53.8027 / 53°48'9"N

Longitude: -1.4132 / 1°24'47"W

OS Eastings: 438745

OS Northings: 434202

OS Grid: SE387342

Mapcode National: GBR LSKG.VL

Mapcode Global: WHDBL.8P94

Entry Name: Crawshaw Woods (Shippen House Farm) bridge, HUL4/20

Listing Date: 5 March 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419062

Location: Leeds, LS15

County: Leeds

Electoral Ward/Division: Cross Gates and Whinmoor

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Barwick

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

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Railway cast-iron overbridge. c1830-34 by James Walker of Walker & Burges for Leeds & Selby Railway. Contractor Stanningley Ironworks.


Railway cast-iron overbridge. c1830-34 by James Walker of Walker & Burges for Leeds & Selby Railway. Contractor Stanningley Ironworks.

MATERIALS: Cast iron, sandstone and Bramley Fall gritstone abutments, wrought-iron balustrade.

PLAN: single-span carrying track over the railway which has provision to accommodate four tracks.

The surviving cast-iron bridge of two c1830-34 cast-iron bridges on the Leeds & Selby Railway. The arch supporting the original cast-iron deck is a 50ft (15.2m) segmental span formed by three cast-iron arched girders with pierced spandrels with vertical struts, and braced by a set of X-section ties towards both outer edges and two sets of I-section ties towards the centre of the span. The stone abutments have tooled Bramley Fall stone quoins and square-cut impost bands from which the cast-iron arch springs. The inner abutment walls and the gently curving wing walls are of squared and coursed, quarry-faced, local, lower coal measures sandstone. The wing walls are topped by moulded string courses. The parapets consist of wrought-iron balustrades of closely-spaced, plain railings with a plain iron handrail. They are set on top of the original deck and the string courses of the wing walls end in curved mushroom-top stone piers.

EXCLUSIONS: Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that the modern deck of timber planks raised above the original deck and modern, sheet steel parapets standing inside the original iron railings are not of special architectural or historic interest.


In the early C19 Leeds was a major textile manufacturing centre and needed a good transport connection to the sea for the import of raw wool and export of finished cloth. The pre-existing river and canal system to Hull was slow and expensive and a railway link from Leeds to Selby and then onwards to Hull was considered to have potential to improve the transport infrastructure, and could also benefit local coal mine and quarry owners.

In 1825 George Stephenson was asked to survey a possible route to Selby. However, financial uncertainties led to the project being postponed and Stephenson concentrated on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway instead. In 1829 the engineer James Walker was asked to review the Stephenson proposal. Walker (1781-1862) is best known for designing harbours, docks and lighthouses, having been appointed consulting engineer to Trinity House in 1825. However, he also played an important role in the early development of the railway system. In 1829 he went into partnership with his assistant, Alfred Burges (1797-1886, father of architect William Burges), though Burges does not appear to have been involved in Walker's railway projects. Having resurveyed the route Walker suggested some adjustments to enable the use of horse or locomotive power without the inclusion of inclined planes worked with stationary steam engines. The proposed route ran from Leeds to the River Ouse at Selby via Crossgates, Garforth and Milford, a distance of just over 19 miles. Walker also suggested that the plan put before Parliament allowed sufficient land to be purchased for the construction of a four track line. It was authorised by Parliament in 1830, four months before the pioneering Liverpool & Manchester Railway opened, and was fully opened by December 1834.

Walker acted as consulting engineer, and in common with other early railway builders, had a resident engineer for the day-to-day supervision and some of the detailed design, using Thomas Dyson, and, from 1832, George Smith. Nowell & Sons of Dewsbury and Homer & Pratt of Goole were the two contractors. The scale of the project was unusual because of the decision to provide four tracks. This resulted in a trackbed of 66ft (20.1m) rather than the typical two track line which had a trackbed of 30ft (9.1m); even Brunel designing for his broad-gauge track used that dimension. The extra width gave the railway a quite different character from the simple lines and waggonways that had preceded it. The most distinctive characteristic of the line was the design for the overbridges, which had to span the four tracks rather than the usual two tracks. Walker did not use a twin-span bridge, but designed a bridge with a single, basket arch (three-centred arch where the height is less than half the span) and an unprecedented span of around 60ft (18.2m). In the event only a twin-track line was laid, and in many cases one side of the arch is obscured by the earth embankment. The bridges were built of stone with the exception of a brick underbridge at Barwick Road Garforth, and two iron bridges, one of which survives at Crawshaw Woods, also designed by Walker. The Crawshaw cast-iron overbridge was constructed by Stanningley Ironworks, and, together with the demolished bridge, was the first of its kind completed by the firm. They subsequently cast other similar bridges over the River Calder on the Leeds & Huddersfield Railway.

The Crawshaw Woods Bridge is believed to be the earliest iron railway bridge in the world still in situ over an operational railway. Two earlier iron bridges are known to have been designed by George Stephenson, but only one survives and it has been relocated to the National Railway Museum in York.

In the First World War the bridge was the main access bridge to the Barnbow Munitions Factory.

The bridge deck was renewed in 1943 by the London and North Eastern Railway, and again in 1999. The present deck is raised above the cast-iron spans and is structurally independent. It has solid steel parapets which stand inside the unaltered, original iron railings.

Reasons for Listing

Crawshaw Woods Bridge, HUL 4/20, of c1830-34 designed by James Walker of Walker & Burges and constructed by Stanningley Ironworks for Leeds & Selby Railway, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a cast iron overbridge built between 1830 and 1834 on the pioneering, first phase Leeds & Selby Railway, believed to be the earliest cast iron bridge in the world still in-situ over an operational railway, and used as the main access bridge to Barnbow Munitions Factory during the First World War;
* Engineer: designed by James Walker, a renowned C19 engineer, who constructed the line with an extra wide four-track bed with single-span overbridges mainly built in stone;
* Architectural interest: as a relatively early cast iron, single-span, segmental-arched bridge with wrought iron railing balustrades and curved mushroom-top stone piers;
* Intactness: the bridge remains intact.

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