Severn Bridge, Severn and Wye/Dean Forest Railway Stations - Railways of the Forest of Dean

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Severn Bridge
Severn Bridge station was opened in October 1879, the same year  as the bridge.   Located immediately to the west of the bridge, the station was  intended to serve the village of Blakeney (the Forest of Dean Central Line only  providing good facilities at their station in the village), but with the village  2 miles away on poor roads, it was probably a struggle to generate any major  trade.

The Severn Bridge itself was an engineering achievement, but commercially  somewhat of a "White Elephant".   4,162 feet in length. it consisted of 21  wrought-iron bowstring girders on concrete-filled cast piers sunk into the River  Severn, with the railway around 70 feet above the river.   The western (forest)  end had a masonry viaduct carrying the line over the Gloucester-Newport line  before entering Severn Bridge station, and the east end had a swing bridge over  the Gloucester-Sharpness canal.   The bridge was a speculative build, based on  the possibility of increased trade from the forest, but the increased trade  never materialised, and the opening of the Severn Tunnel in 1886 reduced its  usefulness even further.  

That saying, the bridge did have some use as a diversionary route if the  Severn Tunnel was closed, and also meant that school traffic between Lydney and  Berkeley didn't have to travel via Gloucester; this was enough to keep the  bridge open.   In 1956, trials were undertaken on the bridge to see if it would  cope with heavier loadings, and as a result, in early 1960, work began on  strengthening the bridge.

Despite being a potential navigation hazard for vessels using the river, the  bridge had survived 80 years without any major mishaps.   However, its luck ran  out on the 25th October, 1960, when two tankers got lost in fog on the river  and missed the entrance to the Sharpness Canal.   They were subsequently swept  upstream for another mile before they collided, first with each other, and then  with the bridge, bringing down two spans.  Five crewmen on the tankers were  killed, and it was only good fortune that meant the death toll wasn't worse; the  final train of the day had just passed over, and the engineers working on the  bridge upgrades were on a break listening to a boxing match.  

Although it was initially decided to repair the bridge, the timing of the  accident could probably not have been worse.   British Railways were now in the  "Beeching Era", with major cutbacks on the horizon, and it is probably not a  great surprise that at some point in 1962, it was decided to demolish the bridge  instead of repairing it.   It didn't help that the maritime insurance payment on  the damage was a fraction of the cost required to repair it, and I also suspect  that the bridge was now considered a major navigational hazard (in fact, there  were more collisions with the bridge during the demolition phase).   The bridge  was removed by 1970.    
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