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Selby rail bridge - 2nd - River Ouse - Yorkshire
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     1839 - Selby rail bridge - 1st
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Address: Selby
County: Yorkshire
Country: England
OS Grid Ref: SE618323
     Nicholsons Guide to the Waterways
     Volume 6, page 92 © 2000 Collins
Type: Swing
Built: 1891
Construction: iron
Power: Steam
Use: Rail
Customer: North Eastern Railway
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Selby rail swing bridge-a
Selby rail swing bridge-a
Construction Partners:
Contractor: Nelson & Co
Resident Engineer: Thomas E. Harrsion M.I.C.E.
Contractor: Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. - Ironwork
Machinery Maker: Sir W.G. Armstrong & Co. - swing mechanism
Machinery Maker: Mitchell & Co Ltd - swing mechanism
Build Information: support piers had to be driven 78 ft down to reach solid rock
Technical Information: 5 spans. Fixed span over river 110ft, asymmetric swing span 130 ft with 2 arms 85ft/45ft about centre point. shorter arm needed counterweight of 92 tons to balance structure
Visited by: Tuesday Night Club, 1997
Present Condition: Good -operational
General notes:
This bridge replaced a double leafed bascule bridge built in 1839 for the Selby to Hull railway line. The bascule bridge leaves were subject to expansion and this limited running speeds for trains crossing the bridge. When the railway company sought parliamentary authority to replace the bascule bridge they also obtained parliamentary permission to switch precedence from river to rail traffic.

Comprehensive technical details of the bidge were published in an article by E. M. Bywell in the October 1907 edition of 'Railway Magazine'. (Railway Magazine is now owned and published by Mortons Media Ltd of Horncastle, Lincolnshire.) Bywells article was one of a series published in the magazine in that year on the topic of 'Swing and Other Opening Bridges'. Bywell's offering was 'No.4 -On The North Eastern Railway'. Research suggests that Bywell was a railway clerk based in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

The bridge had one fixed span and one swing span - which was 130 feet long and gave a clear passage of 60 feet for water traffic. The fixed span was 110 ft 6 inches in length. The swing span was a counterbalancd asymetric section, with the longer arm being 84 feet long and the shorter arm 43 feet - these measurements taken from the circumfereence of the roller path. The weighht of the longer arm wasbalanced by 92 tons 9 cwt of iron bars loaded between the ends of the main girders on the shorter arm.

The spans were each formed of two bow shaped plate girders with transverse girders bearing a double line of rails. The main girders were 2 fet thick and set 26 feet apart. The transverse girders were set at 6 foot 6 inch centres apart. A 3 inch gap was provided at each end of the swing section to allow for expansion.

Chris oberved while waiting for a train on the 22/09/2007 that the signal box on the bridge is still in operational use.

The swing span sits on a circle of 8 cast iron cylinders sunk to a depth of 78 feet below the rail bed. These cylinders are set at a 15 foot radius from the ninth central pier which supports the pivot for the swing section. When in position for rail traffic the outer end of the swing section rests on two cast iron cylinders braced together - which also support the fixed span. At the land end of the swing section the bridge rests on a masonry pier.

The live ring consists of 24 bevelled rollers each 2 feet 6 inches in diameter and 13.5 inches long. The roller paths are of cast steel and are fixed to box girders, the lower one also forming the cap to the ring of cylinders supporting the structure. The box girders are 20 inches thick. The hydraukic engines are mounted in the turret and the bridge is turned by two vertical shafts which have keyed bevelled pinions at the lower end with teeth that engage with a circular rack or spur wheel bolted to the lower box cast girder. The duplicate boilers, pumping engines and accumulators are housed in a tall buidling on the north bank and power is delivered to the engines in the overhead cabins through service pipes set underground and passing up through the central pier.

Oddly the suppolies of water and gas for the hydraulics were carried across the bridge from the south bank through service pipes which had to be designed to close off automatically when the bridge was opened. To prevent freezing during the winter months the accumulaters were fed with a 4:1 mixture of water and pure glycerine. The mixture is forced into the accumuulators by two steam engines. Each engine has two cylinders containing pistons of 5.5 inch diameter and operating on a 6 inch stroke. These gave direct drive to two double acting force pumps. The plungers in the accumulators are 10 inches in diameter and have a 17 foot stroke and are of sufficient weight to create a pressure of 900 lbs per square inch. At this high pressure even the finest spray from a leak would be extremely dangerous.

The ends of the swing section rest on blocks, and hydraulically controlled bolts set at each corner of the swing section lock the bridge in place for rail use. To open the bridge the bolts and the blocks are removed - the power being delivered by pressure pipes radiating from the central column. A knuckle gear then raises each end of the bridge by a half inch to give clearance for the swing.

Operation of the bridge required the cooperation of staff in four locations - the bridge operator in the bridge cabin who did not have control of any signals and the men in 3 seperate signal boxes - Barlby 3/4 mile to the north, East cabin in Selby station and West Junction cabin to the south of the station. Bywell describes a complex sequence of communications between the various operators - with the bridge master unable to move aby levers until they had been 'unlocked' by the signals on the approaches being set to danger. Similarly the signal men could not move the signals to clear until the bridge was declared safe. Only when the blocks and locking bolts were in place would the safety locks on the signal levers be released.

The bridge was staffed round the clock so it took 3 men working 8 hour shifts to keep the bridge operational. Two men workied 10 hour shifts in the engine room - with a 'relief' working the 4 hour gap plus a bridge foreman. In 1907 the bridge formenan was a Mr Walker.

Bywell reported that the bridge wass generally operated 3 or 4 times a day - but that the record was 10 times in one day.

. Bywell does not make any comment on who designed and built the bridge but it is of almost identical design to the swing bridge at Goole that it is highly probable that the same people were responsible. The design of the Goole bridge was credited to Mr Harrison - the railway company senior engineer - and manufactured and constructed by Sir William Armstrong Mitchell and Company.

The original steam driven pumps were later replaced by electric pumps.

In December 2014 the CRT issued the following notice

"Network Rail will no longer be leaving the Selby Swing Bridge in the river open position overnight. The bridge will remain in the river closed position to prevent unnecessary stress to the bridge, this will increase reliability of bridge operation. The bridge will remain available for 24hrs passage - a booking system will be now required for any overnight passages. Day Time Operation - 06:00hrs to 22:00hrs The bridge will be manned and available for swings as normal. Any vessel requiring a bridge swing during day time can request a swing by contacting the bridge in the normal way using marine band radio channel 9. Advance booking is not necessary. Night Time Operation 22:00hrs to 06:00hrs Any vessel requiring an overnight swing should contact Network Rail by telephoning 01904 718028 giving 24 hrs notice. When booking night passage Network Rail will require vessel name, contact telephone number if available and anticipated time of arrival at the bridge.

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Database ref number: 496