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Article and photographs by Paul Wright, 2018
Irchester Railway Bridge
bridge notice
The bridge - stationmaster's house in background
The road over the bridge and closure notice

Work started at about 3 o’clock in the morning, and possession was taken of the railway track at Irchester, as plant, and staff working for "Amco" moved into action under the arc lights on this summer's morning.

It was getting light shortly after that time, as the sun was rising officially at 4.46, being the second day of June, 2018.

Machinery the crane
Machinery arrives
Flood lights and the crane seen across a garden hedge

Heavy plant painted in a vivid yellow colour was shifting away the last parts of the old bridge, in readiness for the pre-cast replacement.

History was being made, and quite a crowd was building on this Saturday morning, some even brought their own deck chairs along, to witness the heavy plant and machinery that was needed for this epic task on the B569 between Irchester and Rushden.

Some of the witnesses
Some of the locals had been given the wrong end of the proverbial stick, and were thinking that bridge was going to be blown up. Sad to report that this was not so, and it was done much more quietly by traditional methods.

The bridge at Finedon Road in Wellingborough was being replaced at this weekend, the crane at this site did stay in place for several days longer.

Two remaining bridges were on the radar to be replaced later; one to the north near Isham, and the other one is near to Bedford.

Several generations of local families were rolling up to record this major time in the history of Irchester; after all the old bridge had been there for so many years.

And it was being replaced over the weekend of 1st June, 2018, by some pre-cast replacement that was being shipped by Shay Murtagh from West Meath in Ireland.

I spent over 3 hours taking shots, and chatting to old mates about the past in general, and capturing various pieces of the action as the work started to unfold.

The huge crane
The huge crane
There was a low loader already standing in position, awaiting being unloaded, but this was in the wrong order of assembly, and the correct ones were still coming down past Birmingham.

They were due on site at around 11.00, and sure enough they rolled along Station Road  at 11.05, and men and some ladies swung in to action in their bright orange overalls, and white protective helmets.

After the slingers went about their part of the job, just an hour later the first section was being swung in to place.

The massive crane which could be seen for miles around was provided by "Baldwins" who are based in the home counties at several depots. One of the shots to put that size in to perspective was taken as the rink was being cut at Irchester bowls club, with the crane in the background.

Weather conditions were really sticky and humid, with the temperature in the mid 20's C over the duration of the weekend, perhaps summer had arrived?

The possession ended at 04.30 on the Monday morning of the 4th, June, 2018, during the day the crane was still on site, but left later on in the day.

I did pose the question as to why there was going to be such a delay in the re-opening of the road bridge, and was informed that it was the speed of the utility companies who have to install various services over the railway lines. (so now we know).

Work following the delivery of the pre-cast sections has been steady as can be seen, and seems to be still on going.

pre-cast sections pre-cast sections
Pre-cast sections of the new bridge

The November 2018 road re-opening cannot come soon enough, as there have been numerous hold ups on the A45.

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