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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

Machinery
Machinery arrives
Machinery
On Thursday 18th January 2018, some future travel disruptions were announced. The connecting road between Rushden and Irchester will be shut for the best part of 7 months. Not good news for the good folk of Irchester, meaning that a long detour will have to be taken until the end of the work. [nor for Rushden folk either!]

The B569 needs to be closed in Station Road, Irchester, to enable the building of a new bridge that will be part of the electrification of the line from Bedford to Corby. Some of the existing railway bridges to the south at Wymington, Souldrop etc. have already been constructed.

At the tail end of February 2018, new metal steps were installed at the bridge at Irchester; these lead down to the track in readiness for the planned raised bridge installation

Temporary bus stops have been put in to place either sides of the bridge, so that work can be started on the bridge itself, this was in readiness for the April 2018 closure.

On Monday 6th March, an area of the field on the Irchester side of the bridge was being prepared to make a site compound, as the large plant machinery will be housed for the seven month work period.

Spring has arrived at last, and the road bridge across the railway at Finedon Road between Wellingborough and Finedon is going to be closed from Thursday 23rd March to the back end of 2018.

Before the work at Irchester, a major milestone on work to upgrade the line between London and Corby started in mid November 2017, as 40 overhead line masts for electrification were installed through the night on the route for the first time in more than 40 years. The project to extend the masts and the wires from Bedford to Corby will cost around £700 million, and they will be spaced between 50-60 metres.

Scaffolding
Scaffolding

But the work will total £1bn for other upgrades when completed on its way to the north of England, and will be a part of the largest upgrade of the Midland mainline since the 19th century.

Yet another glitch in this electrification saga came clear on the morning of Monday 15th January, 2018, when it was announced that one of the main contractors was placed into liquidation.

The giant Carillion had already announced numerous profit warnings, despite this the Tory government were still awarding Carillion with new contracts just prior to this announcement.

This was the company that was heavily involved in the controversial HS2 (High Speed 2) route.

The blighted company had been in talks with the government since October 2017, this was partly a desperate move to try and stave off the eventual collapse according to their chief executive Mr Keith Cochran.

When the banks fiscal dues were taken into account, Carillion owed at least £2 billion, sadly they were never going to be able to service this debt, with just £29 million in the bank.

We took the final shots of the old bridge at Irchester, this is where the former railway station booking hall stood until its closure to passengers in 1960, and five years later the goods side of things went too. But some of the buildings live on in the yard on the Wellingborough side to the right.

family
Bamp, my late mother Grace Wright, Nan Baxter & Ronald
My late maternal grandfather, Mr John (Jack) Baxter used to catch the train from here for his annual visit to the Goose Fair at Nottingham, which was held every autumn. He and his wife Flo lived in the terrace that stood at the bottom of Townwell Lane, before moving up to newly built Baker Crescent.

I have included a black and white shot of him, my late mother Grace Wright, Mrs Flo Baxter, and youngest son Ronald Baxter (still living nearby in the village). The photo was taken about 1950 at Wymington.

The last shots were taken just hours before its closure, and you can see the intricate scaffolding that is in place over the track, concrete piers were constructed to rest the scaffolding on. This was in readiness to take the former bridge down after many years, while still running the rail services at the same time.

The road was closed on the morning of the 9th April, and will be back in use for road traffic at 17.00 on Friday 2nd November, 2018.



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