Railway volunteers launch fundraiser to repair worn-out bridge on old Northampton-Market Harborough line

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Costly new timbers urgently needed to keep historic steam trains running in 2023

Volunteers at a heritage railway near Northampton face a race against time to fix a worn out bridge which threatens to send its plans for 2023 off track.

Northampton and Lamport Railway needs to raise £8,500 to replace rotting timbers on Bridge 13, midway along its mile-and-a-half of restored track on the old Northampton to Market Harborough line which it uses to run historic steam and diesel services from March to Christmas each year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The charity — which began running services on the line in 1995 — has been forced to suspend services over the northern part of its line. The new season starts on Mother’s Day, March 19 and a dedicated fund-raising page has been set up in a bid to raise the cash required as quickly as possible to avoid disappointing the line’s fans.

Northampton & Lamport Railway runs historic steam and diesel trains on the former Northampton-Market Harborough lineNorthampton & Lamport Railway runs historic steam and diesel trains on the former Northampton-Market Harborough line
Northampton & Lamport Railway runs historic steam and diesel trains on the former Northampton-Market Harborough line

A spokesman for the railway said: “Bridge 13 is a six-span metal girder bridge on brick piers. It was restored to working order by the line’s volunteers in 2000. But 22 years of exposure to the elements has seen some of the large timbers start to deteriorate to a point where safety could become compromised if the bridge remained in use.

“Despite being predominantly metal, the timbers run lengthways along the bridge beneath the rails securing them to the main assembly. Regular monitoring of the timbers identified two — out of 10 — had suddenly weakened to the point that it was decided no passenger trains could pass over bridge after the ‘Mince Pie Specials’ were completed on New Year’s Day.

“Other timbers are starting to approach the end of the useful life.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Closing the bridge will hugely affect the railway, meaning that its train services can only run over a fraction of the existing line and we are appealing for donations from the public and local businesses to raise the £8,500 needed to purchase and transport timbers and get the bridge re-opened before its main 2023 season gets underway — and before prices go up even further.”

British Rail withdrew passengers services on the Northampton-Harborough line in 1973 and officially closed it eight years later but a group formed, based in the old goods yard at Pitsford & Brampton station, in an effort to reopen as much of the line as possible. The first passengers were carried along the reopened section in November 1995 and the line was officially reopened on the 31st March 1996.

The extension from Bridge 13 to Bridge 14, was achieved by fundraising — including National Lottery cash — and seven years of hard work from volunteers at a cost of £50,000. In 2002 the first passenger train crossed the restored Bridge 13 since its closure by British Railways in 1981.

Plans are under way to add a half-mile extension of the line south to Boughton Crossing — including a new station and restored signal box — plus another stretch north over Bridge 14 to Merry Tom Crossing and eventually further north to Spratton.

■ Click https://gofund.me/1c14f264 to read more about the Northampton & Lamport Railway appeal and how you can help.