The South Devon Railway Enthusiasts' site

Nursery Pool Bridge rebuilding project archive
Time Line
January 01 January 05 January 06 January 13 January 15 January 23
January 27 February 03 February 11 February 17 February 22 February 24
February 27 February 29 March 04 March 08 March 12 March 15
March 16 March 17 March 19 March 21 March 23 March 24
March 27 April 01 April 28  

The long awaited Nursery Pool Bridge rebuilding project got under way on January 2nd. This major engineering project is being assisted by the National Heritage Lottery Fund with a grant of up to £183,500 towards the total cost of around £245,000.

The last passenger train to cross the old bridge was the 4.30pm from Totnes on January 1st. After this the track was handed to the engineering department under a full line possession. The last train movement over the structure took place on the morning of January 2nd being the permanent way train, which will remain South of the bridge.  Yorkshire Engine 0-6-0 diesel LO52 was the last vehicle to cross the structure when it returned “light engine” to Buckfastleigh after this movement.

The project involves the replacing of the present Nursery Pool Bridge by a new reinforced concrete bridge, relaying and realignment of the track to the South of the bridge and realignment of the track to the North of the bridge. An innovative solution has been found to the problem of building the new bridge in a position that has difficult access. The new concrete structure will be cast in situ and the old bridge remains in position but taking no weight, thus retaining much of the appearance of the present structure and avoiding the very difficult and expensive option of having to remove the old bridge. The existing bridge piers are in good condition and remain.

Day 1 of the project was one for the SDR’s Permanent Way gang to remove the track from the bridge ready for the bridge contractors to move in on Monday 5th January. This initial job was complete by the end of the day. The next two days were to be spent preparing the track South of the bridge for relaying and realignment. When the bridge was built the line was broad gauge so, when in 1892 the track was altered to standard gauge, one rail was just moved inwards as can be seen from the picture above right.

The track has remained off centre on the bridge and right down the straight in the Totnes direction ever since. The new structure will see the track centred over the bridge for the first time and so the entire straight South of the bridge needs to be realigned as well. A planned relaying of this 840 ft section has been delayed to coincide with the bridge project and will now see the old 1952 dated sleepers replaced with bullhead concrete CS2 sleepers.

Regular picture updates will follow as the contract proceeds. The next scheduled train services are on March 27th and the contractors timetable should see the bridge handed back to the Trust for track relaying on March 19th So, it is a tight schedule!

Contractors move in on schedule at Nursery Pool (5th January 2004)
The contractors appointed to deal with the Nursery Pool rebuilding job moved in on schedule today to begin work.
The first job is to scaffold the bridge out and work was well under way by mid afternoon today, 5th January,  when the accompanying photograph was taken. A large tracked digger was also delivered to the site along with 80 tons of stone to form a temporary ramp up to the track bed for access, which has been obtained through the sewage works adjacent to the railway at this point.

6th January 
The steel reinforcing rod arrived on schedule today and the longer lengths (18½ tons in all) were transported to site by rail.

The steel being transhipped to rail at Buckfastleigh & the train leaving

A general view of the site works area at the bridge with the temporary access ramp in place.

13>th January
The next two pictures shew the bridge looking South on Sunday 12th with all track removed and the scaffolding complete. Further progress on Monday, this time looking North.

15th January
The contractors are proceeding according to plan. As the next picture shows, all the ballast and the old deck have been removed. Work starts today on removing the now redundant cross beams where they are above the main piers. New bearings will now be built onto the existing piers to support the new bridge. As this work begins, starting from the South end of the bridge, shuttering will be placed between the old cross beams. Then work can start on erecting the reinforcing steel.

23rd January
The contractors dealing with the reconstruction of Nursery Pool Bridge reported to Trust officials today that they were quietly confident that the contract was on schedule for completion by the March 19th deadline. Despite a run of wet weather things were progressing well. So far the old deck has been removed, the tops of the piers have been excavated ready for the construction of the new concrete plinths on which the main bridge will sit, and the steel erectors have moved in today to start putting the reinforcing steel in place. The old cross beams have been removed where these are intersected by the new concrete plinths on the old piers. Another sub-contractor will begin fixing the shuttering next week in preparation for the main concrete pour. The main concern now is that the weather remains not too unkind.
Although the forecast cold snap may not help, the main concern is rain. Not that the amount of water in the River Dart is likely to be a problem as all the work is on the bridge, and not under it, but it is just physically difficult to work in very wet weather.

27th January
Work is now in hand on constructing the bridge soffit shuttering. All the piers are excavated ready for the new concrete plinths. The steel reinforcing is fixed in place for the Totnes end abutment and the first two piers from the Totnes end.
The steel for the rest and more for the Buckfastleigh end of the bridge will be delivered tomorrow.

3rd February - First Concrete goes in to new bridge!
The first concrete “pour” took place today on the reconstruction of Nursery Pool Bridge. All four new pier top plinths and the two end abutments were poured into place today during an operation that took several hours and involved using a radio controlled concrete pump. The weather has been relatively kind with only sporadic rain showers despite other areas of the country receiving drenchings resulting in severe floods.

Work now enters a new phase with the ongoing construction of temporary deck shuttering and installation of many tons of reinforcing bar ready for the main concrete pour to make the new deck. This is scheduled for around February 27th

11th February 2004 
Nice weather and things look to be going well. The woodwork department are just finishing off the deck soffit whilst the steel erectors have got stuck in to setting up the deck reinforcing. The reinforcing for the Totnes end abutment and two piers is done, they are working on the third and have started laying out some of the steel for the actual deck.

17th February
The contract for the rebuilding of Nursery Pool Bridge has entered its seventh week. Work continues apace on the setting out of the reinforcing steel for the new deck and the robust kerbs through which the track will be re-laid. If the weather keeps fair it is hoped that the concrete pour for the main deck may be brought forward by a day or so. If this is the case that will be very good news as any extra time available for replacing the track on the new bridge will be very welcome as there is only a short time window before the train service restarts on March 27th.

22nd February
The seventh week of the Nursery Pool rebuilding project ended with the erection of the steel reinforcing for the piers and robust curbs all but finished and the project running on schedule. Work will now concentrate on fixing the remainder of the reinforcing steel for the deck before the main concrete pour, timetabled for the end of this week (week eight).

24th February
The robust kerb reinforcement is all but complete apart from a few minor details awaiting provision of some critical measurements. The reinforcing for the main deck is now well advanced with the lower level of steel about 2/3rds complete. The main concrete pour to form the deck is now scheduled for this coming Saturday.

27th February
Bridge ready for main concrete “pour”
The steel deck reinforcing and shuttering is now all complete and ready for the main pour of 110 cubic metres of concrete due to start at 8.15am on Saturday 28th February - weather permitting!  With an overnight frost expected and cold day forecast with a risk of snow showers, this could throw a “spanner in the works” If the day is clear though it should quickly warm up to allow the job to proceed. The photo below was taken at 3.00pm 26th February and shows the contractors doing various final jobs in readiness for the early start. Fingers crossed!!

29th February
Bridge pour takes place as planned!
Alleluia!! The weather proved fine and not too cold and so the main concrete pour to form the new deck for the bridge took place on schedule yesterday. Work started at 10.00am after the weather had warmed up sufficiently and was complete by 3.00pm. On to the next stage - the robust kerbs.

04th March
Following the successful “pour” of the main deck last Saturday work is now well in hand with preparations for the casting of the first of the robust kerbs. This is scheduled to take place on Monday 8th March. The steel fixers have been busy inserting yet more steel into the kerbs whilst the shuttering experts have been hard at it putting all the formwork in place. One picture shows the special formwork being constructed with plastic faced ply to give a smooth finish. It has to be well anchored down to prevent lifting when the concrete is poured into the structure. The second detail shows a “Halfen” fixing. These are fitted to the inside of the shuttering and when the shuttering is taken away will have been well and truly cast into the concrete. The uprights for the handrails will be bolted to them.

08th March
The first of the robust kerbs was cast at the Nursery Pool Bridge site today. Work will start first thing tomorrow to transfer the shuttering to the downstream side of the bridge ready for a pour at the end of the week.

12th March
Bridge ready for final “pour”
With week ten of the Nursery Pool Bridge rebuilding project nearly over the contractors were ready for the final pour of the downstream robust kerb to take place on Saturday March 13th. During the week the shuttering has been removed from the upstream kerb and set up on the second side. The trough through which the trains will run is now readily apparent. The deck will now need waterproofing after which a six inch layer of ballast will be added before the sleepers and rails are laid on top. The running rail height will be 1’ 4” below the top of the kerbs.

15th March
Nearly there!
Week eleven of the contract and the complete bridge has now been cast. The shuttering team are busy removing their handiwork. That should be dealt with by Wednesday when the next operation - deck waterproofing - can begin.

16th March
With the shuttering now largely removed the new bridge can be seen for the first time. Now to pray for some dry weather to enable the deck waterproofing to proceed.

17th March
Waterproofing under way!
The weather was kind today and work is proceeding on the deck water proofing. It will be touch and go whether this process can be completed in the next day or so. It needs to be dry and the weather man is threatening dire conditions coming in during Thursday and for the rest of the week. If the waterproofing can be completed we can proceed with ballasting and track laying and have a chance of opening on time if the concrete has gained enough strength.
Fingers crossed!

19th March
Waterproofing complete - all set to go!
The deck waterproofing was completed yesterday afternoon just before the rains arrived.
An official progress meeting today, March 19th was able to confirm that the Trust could have access to the bridge for tracklaying as soon as the bottom ballast had been laid, which exercise is due to occur on Saturday 20th March. Crush tests will be carried out on Monday to confirm that the concrete has achieved its design strength, and if the go ahead is given as expected, and the Railway staff have reconnected the track over the bridge, then works trains will begin the job of ballasting the various new works down the line and on the bridge whilst the Midland Railway Centre tamping machine gets to work.
So, if all goes well services will restart on schedule over the whole line on March 27th as per timetable.
The contractors will carry out some minor finishing details over the next few days. At the same time SDR staff will begin fixing the handrails whilst the scaffolding is still in place.
21st March
Hooray!!  ........... Bridge finished on time!
Ballast and track back on this weekend. Fishplate and key up tomorrow and Tuesday. Ballasting and tamping Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Trains Saturday.  Just for the record, the first rail vehicle across the new bridge was a platelayers' trolley, from the south bank to the north bank, carrying rail keys and tools, and returned empty on Sunday afternoon.
Well done to all concerned and keep buying those lottery tickets for a week or two more!
23rd March
New Nursery Pool Bridge ready for traffic!
The Contractors who built the new bridge were able to report yesterday that all the elements of the new structure had achieved the design strength of the concrete at 50 Newton, thus clearing the bridge for use as soon as the track was relaid and contractors equipment out of the way.
The SDR Permanent Way gang completed the fishplating and keying up of the relaid track over Nursery Pool Bridge today at around midday.
Within half an hour the first train crossed the bridge for the purpose of laying out various hand rail components ready for fixing. The honour of being the first locomotive over the rebuilt structure fittingly fell to Yorkshire Diesel YO52, which had also been the last locomotive to cross the old structure on January 2nd Ballast trains will run over the bridge during the rest of this week and also the Midland Railway Centre tamping machine will be making its way to Totnes to start work.  Help has also been given to the contractors to remove shuttering and scaffolding off the bridge by train - a lot easier than carrying everything as had had to be the case when fixing it in the first place!
By mid afternoon the fixing of the new hand rail uprights was well under way - the work being carried out by SDR staff.
Later in the afternoon 1420 returned to Buckfastleigh after having been stored at Staverton over the winter in case of an over run on the bridge project. Thankfully the contingency arrangements will not now be needed and normal services will begin on schedule at the weekend. Locomotives in use will be 1420 and 5786.

24th March
Ballast Trains use new Bridge
With the new version of Nursery Pool Bridge now passed for traffic, albeit with caution as contractors are still carrying out finishing touches and SDR staff are busy fixing the handrails, works trains have been running to and fro all day with ballast to the various winter relaying jobs that await stone and tamping.

Your camera man was out and about to catch some views of these workings on the new structure. The new handrails can be clearly seen - just the uprights at this moment in time. The main contractors are still removing some of the shuttering but much of the safety scaffolding has been removed with just some remaining on each side.

27th March
Railway Opens on time!
The SDR's 2004 season got off to a fine start on 27th March with the first train over the newly reopened bridge being 0-4-2T No 1420 hauling a rake of three well filled carriages. The railway runs its annual “Half Price” weekend at the opening weekend every year when many locals and members turn out to enjoy the beauties of a ride along the line. In addition to being able to see the new bridge passengers were able to feel the benefit of the better ride following the winter relaying programme and the recent ballasting and tamping exercises. Some more ballasting needs to be completed along the straight from Nursery Pool Bridge after which the Midland Railway tamping team will bring the track up to scratch.
When this work is complete and the handrails fitted to the bridge (only the short length where 1420 is photographed on the bridge has yet been completed) all remaining temporary speed restrictions will be able to be removed, which will be the first time since the line passed into SDR control.

1420 on new bridge
Views from the cab of WLS 5786
5786 passes the Buckfastleigh outer home signal

01st April
Finishing touches to new Nursery Pool bridge
The trackwork on the new bridge is now complete. The Midland Railway tamper and ballast regulator have completed the work on the track both on the bridge and on each side where the alignment has been altered following the centring of the track on the bridge after 112 years! The Midland Railway ballast regulator is seen putting the final touches to the track on the bridge and their tamping machine dealing with the straight just South of the bridge. If you need your line tamping and you don't have your own machine then the SDR would thoroughly recommend you consider seeking their services.

28th April 
Nursery Pool project virtually complete
The handrail stanchions have now been fitted to Nursery Pool Bridge, which only leaves a section of walkway on each side and the finishing of the painting of the old structure for the project to be completed. Cast signs are also being made to add to the bridge as a finishing touch. The wording will be “South Devon Railway - 2004” in the style of the Great Western “rounder” combined name and numberplates that were fitted to many of the early Great Western 4-4-0's.

Locomotive 5786 crosses NP bridge with a normal service train

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