Leeds rail bridge future is on right track

Crawshaw Woods Bridge.
Crawshaw Woods Bridge.
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Sixty feet long and made of cast iron, it is a piece of Leeds transport history that’s now on track for a suitably solid future.

Crawshaw Woods Bridge to the east of Cross Gates has been handed Grade II listed status, English Heritage announced today.

Dating back to the 1830s, it is believed to be the earliest cast iron bridge in the world still in-situ over a working railway line.

Nick Bridgland, designation team leader in the north for English Heritage, said: “Crawshaw Woods Bridge is a rare and important survivor from railways which were a British invention and one of the Victorians’ greatest achievements.

“Railways gave the Industrial Revolution its impetus and staying power, transforming the lives of millions, so this bridge is a key reminder of a momentous period in our country’s history.”

Crawshaw Woods Bridge was designed by influential Scottish engineer James Walker, who is perhaps better known for his work on harbours, docks and lighthouses.

It was constructed by Stanningley Ironworks for use as part of the Leeds and Selby rail line, which was fully opened in December 1834.

The 19-mile route ran from Leeds to the River Ouse at Selby via Cross Gates, Garforth and Milford.

During the First World War, meanwhile, the bridge provided a key means of access to the massive Barnbow munitions factory at Cross Gates.

Today it stands proudly over the York and Selby lines, between Cross Gates and Garforth stations.

Heritage experts say features that make the bridge worthy of particular attention include “wrought iron railing balustrades” and “curved mushroom-top stone piers”.

Listed status means special planning consent is needed for any alterations that might affect the chosen structure’s architectural or historic interest.