Mystery Bridge Nr. 53: The Estate Bridge at Staffordshire, UK

Lichfield Drive Bridge at Shugborough Park in Staffordshire. Photo taken by Paul Hunt, used with permission.
Lichfield Drive Bridge at Shugborough Park in Staffordshire. Photo taken by Paul Hunt, used with permission.

After a nearly six-month absence due to many commitments combined with an upgrade of the Chronicles to website status, we will now open up the 2015 Mystery Bridge gallery, with our first bridge being a rather unique one located (hold your breath!)-

In England!

The United Kingdom is famous for its numerous, rather ornamental bridges- some made of steel, but many made of concrete and/or brick. This bridge, located at Lichfield Drive in Colwich, in the district of Staffordshire, is one of those examples that stand out as a unique ornamental bridge made of concrete. Once spanning a railroad line that is now a path, this bridge, according to records from English Heritage, was built in 1847. The main span is a closed spandrel elliptical arch bridge made of brick. A figure head is at the keystone of the arch span. Columns on both sides support the remaining structure with lower rounded ballustrade railings curving over the bridge from piling to piling. Rounded engraved medallions can be found on the stone blocks on the outer edge of the bridge on the deck, and sculptures can be found on the bridge’s ballustrades.

The bridge is uniqueness in design is overshadowed by the lack of information available on the structure. In particular, we do not know who built the bridge, let alone who was behind the design. England has had many engineers who left their landmarks in history, including I.K. Brunel (who built the Clifton Suspension Bridge), Sir John Fowler, who built the Firth of Forth Railroad Bridge, and Thomas Telford, who masterminded the construction of numerous railroad bridges. But we do not know who built this bridge, whether it was the aforementioned engineers or someone else.

This is where your help comes in.

If you know of the history of this unique bridge that you would like to share, please add your comments below or contact Jason Smith at the Chronicles, using the contact information in the About the Chronicles page. You can also add your comments in the Chronicles’ facebook page as it is also a platform to discuss the history of this bridge.

There is a story behind the beauty of bridges like this one, and with a little help, we can find out more about the bridge at Colwich so that it deserves the recognition of a national historic landmark. Best of luck with finding the information and may we solve the mystery of this bridge. 🙂

The author would like to thank Paul Hunt for allowing usage of the bridge. 

Please click here to find out where the bridge is located. Map courtesy of Google Map.


One thought on “Mystery Bridge Nr. 53: The Estate Bridge at Staffordshire, UK

  1. As a railway postcard collector, I always search for details about the subject and for the Colwich Railway Bridge (pictured on a “L&NWR official” in my possession), Google directed me also to your interesting website (which I bookmarked for future reference on railway bridge details. Thanks!).
    In reply to your question for more information on subject bridge, I like to share here my findings and thoughts.
    In your comments you say that the bridge is spanning a railway, but in my opinion was the bridge built to carry a railway: the Trent Valley Railway (TVR, est. 1844) to connect Rugby and Stafford. Works on this railway started in 1845 (under direction of a.o. Robert Stephenson), but already in 1846 the TVR was taken over by the London & Birmingham Railway which in that same year then amalgated with the London & North Western Railway (L&NWR).
    Very likely it was John William Livock (1814-1883), the in-house architect of the L&NWR, who designed the bridge: his works include many stations and a “bridge on the Shurborough Estate” in 1847. Also the portals of the Shurborough Railway Tunnel are from his hand. It is to be noted that both the bridge and the tunnel portals are “estate worthy”, i.e. designed to fit their environment (Shurborough Hall / Park / etc.).
    The bridge is located approx. 1.2 km West of Colwich Junction and today very well visible with Google Earth (52°47’17” – 2°00’20”) and carrying the 2-track, electrified railway Rugby – Stafford. This view also made me believe that the bridge never spanned a railway as that one would run straight into the Estate to ….. where? Moreover, I have an old railway map of 1907 which does not show at this (bridge) location a crossing of railway lines. (btw: your locator on Google maps in your comments is slightly out of place: it should be on the grey [railway] line).
    The bridge is depicted on an official postcard of the L&NWR, issued November 1904, with the caption “Old railway bridge near Colwich”. Also on the postcard there are no tracks to be distinguished under the bridge but rather a, for that period, neat drive-way. The word “old” in the caption might be a bit puzzling: the bridge was certainly not old (in terms of “former” or “disused”) as also in 1904 it carried an operational railway line. Maybe “old” is here to be interpreted in terms of classical (design).
    I do think that the bridge (also) served as an ornamental entrance (portal) to the Shugborough Estate. The crest on top of the bridge (could not identify it yet), the sculptures (animals) and the bays (on top and sides) for maybe statues, are not the type of decorations you generally find to “welcome” a train but rather to impress visitors entering the Shugborough Estate.

    If I come across more / better information, I will of course share that in the future. If you are interested in a copy of the 1904 postcard, I happily send that.


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