Oxford Preservation Trust celebrates winning National Railway Heritage Award for its work restoring Rewley Road swing bridge: Network Rail's chair, Lord Hendy (second from left) at the unveiling of the OPT plaque

Monday 9 Oct 2023

Oxford Preservation Trust celebrates winning National Railway Heritage Award for its work restoring Rewley Road swing bridge

Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

The sun shone overhead and there were smiles all round as many of the people who had played their individual parts in saving and restoring the Rewley Road swing bridge came together for the unveiling of the plaque presented to the Trust for their work.

Debbie Dance, director of Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) was joined by Andy Savage and Tim Hedley Jones from the Railway Heritage Trust, and representatives of Network Rail and Historic England together with the judges, funders and the specialist experts all of whom made a significant contribution to the project. And so good was their work that OPT was awarded the top national prize for railway heritage conservation. Later in the day Debbie was also joined by Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill, chair of Network Rail, taking to the water to see the mechanism from below.

The London Midland and Scottish Railway swing bridge is a disused railway bridge over Oxford’s Sheepwash Channel and is one of only two moving bridges on the Thames – the other being Tower Bridge in London. The bridge was designed by engineer Robert Stephenson and built in 1850. A Scheduled Monument, the bridge holds a unique place in the history of England’s first railways, narrow versus wide gauge, and the battle between giants Brunel and Stephenson.

By 1951, it was no longer in use and closed to passenger traffic, and to goods by 1984, which led to its suffering from severe decay of the plating and paintwork which were protecting its surviving parts, including the original mechanism. The bridge had fallen into disrepair and was added to the national Heritage at Risk Register in 2013 where it remained for nearly ten years, until it was removed last year, as the restoration progressed.

Debbie Dance, Oxford Preservation Trust’s director, said: We are so delighted to have been recognised in this way and cannot thank the team enough for their part.

“The fact that it was recognised at a national level shows the importance of the structure which could have been so easily lost with its significance somewhat lost beneath its rusty exterior.

“This winter we will make the final touches with interpretation boards to go up and the sowing of a wildflower meadow to increase biodiversity.”

For further information please contact: Debbie Dance director@oxfordpreservation.org.uk, 07860 160900.

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