The Planned Route of the Railway through Meldreth

A collection of photographs from the Parliamentary Archive

By Tim Gane

It was the question of when the road bridge over the railway line at Meldreth was built that inspired our former Chairman, Angus Bell, to visit the Houses of Parliament Archive to view the original Parliamentary papers that were drawn up in preparation for the railway which was opened in 1851.

The discussion on when and why the road bridge was built is covered elsewhere on our website.  This page records copies of the Royston and Hitchin Railway Company plan, dated 20th December 1847, that Angus unearthed in the archive.  The plan covers the whole line extension through to Cambridge but here we have just concentrated on that part of the route the railway was to take through Meldreth.

Photo:The key for the symbols used on the accompanying drawings

The key for the symbols used on the accompanying drawings

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85. Photographed by Angus Bell.

Photo:The planned route of the railway line through Meldreth

The planned route of the railway line through Meldreth

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85. Photographed by Angus Bell.

The following photograph shows that the planned railway would require the demolition of two cottages sited on the Meldreth to Melbourn road at the position where the railway crossed the road. 

Photo:The point of the road / rail crossing in Meldreth

The point of the road / rail crossing in Meldreth

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85. Photographed by Angus Bell.

The next photograph shows the owner of these cottages to be Ann Fitch and the occupiers Ellis Negus and Sarah Howard.

Photo:The owners and occupiers of the cottages situated at the point of the road / rail crossing in Meldreth

The owners and occupiers of the cottages situated at the point of the road / rail crossing in Meldreth

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85. Photographed by Angus Bell.

It was necessary to raise the road to a height of 17ft 6in to clear the railway clearly showing that a bridge was included in the design from the very start of the railway construction.

Photo:A bridge height of 17ft 6in was required to carry the road over the railway.

A bridge height of 17ft 6in was required to carry the road over the railway.

Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85. Photographed by Angus Bell.

The inclusion of a bridge on the initial plans now makes it reasonably certain that the bridge was built at the same time as the railway.  What we still don't know is why Meldreth qualified for a bridge when other crossings did not.  The mystery continues ....


We are indebted to Angus for visiting the Parliamentary Archive.

We are also grateful to The Parliamentary Archive for permission to reproduce the above images of the 1847 Royston and Hitchin Railway Company Plan. 

Parliamentary Archive reference: Parliamentary Archives, HL/PO/PB/3/plan1847/E85

This page was added by Tim Gane on 19/02/2018.

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.