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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Ripple M50 Bridge

On its way south from Ripple, the Malvern-Ashchurch branch followed the course of Bow Lane, a road linking the village with Puckrup. However, in the late 1950s the government decided that the country needed a new motorway to link the Midlands with South Wales, and so the new M50 was constructed south of the village to connect what would later become the M5 (to the east of Ripple), with Ross-on-Wye (to the west). This meant installing a single-track railway bridge to enable trains to cross the motorway: an effort which all too soon became pointless when the moribund route closed to passengers in 1961. The map below is from 1946 and so does not show the motorway, but rather the railway as it was originally.


Today, the motorway has outlived the unique railway bridge, which was removed in 2012 after falling into disrepair. The bridge is still in place and can be crossed either by car or on foot, but the attached railway crossing has been demolished, leaving dismembered stone walls on either side. In truth, the site is largely unremarkable now and these small relics offer the only clues that a railway once ran through here.


By far the most prolific photographic chronicler of the railway bridge's early years was Ben Brooksbank, whose extensive collection of pictures have been made freely available through his Geograph.org.uk profile.
 
'SE view along Bow Lane near Ripple', 9th August 1959. The disconnected railway can be seen on the left. Picture taken by Ben Brooksbank, courtesy of Creative Commons Licence 2.0.
'M50 Motorway under construction', 17th August 1960. This is the view from Bow bridge looking west. Picture taken by Ben Brooksbank, courtesy of Creative Commons Licence 2.0.
'M50 Motorway under construction: railway overbridge', 25th March 1961. Picture taken by Ben Brooksbank, courtesy of Creative Commons Licence 2.0.

Dereliction & Demolition


The railway bridge from the road.
'Former railway bridge over the M50'. Picture by Phil Halling, used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0.
'Former railway bridge over the M50'. Picture by Phil Halling, used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0
'Former railway bridge over the M50'. Picture by Phil Halling, used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0
'Former railway bridge over the M50'. Picture by Phil Halling, used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0
Cracks showing in the bridge during its final days.
'Dismantled railway bridge'. Picture by Phil Halling, used under Creative Commons Licence 2.0

Modern Remains


The bridge in its late 1950s heyday.
The matching shot showing the bridge shortly before demolition in 2012...
...and the same shot from 2016.
Bow Lane, looking north towards Ripple.
The view south in 2016.
'Bow Lane, Ripple, at bridge over M50 Motorway', 11 July 1997. This is the view south along Bow bridge. Picture taken by Ben Brooksbank, courtesy of Creative Commons Licence 2.0.
The same scene in 2016.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting read this and particularly the pictures, some of which are mine, pleased to see they are correctly credited. Just one minor correction, in the first paragraph you refer to the 'existing M5 east of Ripple'. The M50 predates the M5 motorway by a couple of years. The M5 between junction 4 and 8 opened in 1962.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure which one of the authors you are, but thank you for the photographs anyway! I've changed the information about the motorways too.

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