The Planned Route of the Railway through Meldreth
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 (see photograph 1).
Photograph 2 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.
Photograph 3 shows the owner of these cottages to be Ann Fitch and the occupiers Ellis Negus and Sarah Howard.
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 (photographs 4 and 5) from the very start of the railway construction.
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 on the line only had level crossings which continues to this day. (e.g. Shepreth, Foxton and Harston). 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