High Street Railway Bridge
On Saturday 2nd February 2013 the railway bridge that had been constructed in 1883 across the High Street was finally retired after 130 years of service. Its new replacement should hopefully see another 120 years of service. The new bridge was brought to Southend in sections on a number of articulated lorries and constructed in the nearby Tyler’s Avenue car park. On the day of removal the old bridge was lowered and wheeled out of the way using two self-propelled modular transports with hydraulic elevating platforms, which were electrically operated by a remote control, the two transporters had 16 bogies each (32 in total). The same equipment and technique would be used but in reverse to install the new bridge. The new bridge was transported some 691ft and then lifted to its new home. Once in place work started to relay the tracks, ballast and reconnect the signalling, the first train to cross the bridge was on Monday morning, this was an empty test train at 2:00am, followed up at 4:30am by the first passenger train. For safety purposes, a section of the High Street had to be closed to pedestrians, this resulted in four shops having to remain closed all weekend, with Network rail compensating them for their loss of business. To help pedestrians with the diversion in place, large signs were erected and stewards were employed. A number of street furnishings had to be removed, this included; bins, seats, electronic information points and lighting. The street lights on both Clifftown Road and Tylers Avenue saw the removal of the lighting arms of the lamp posts to allow access. With a break in the line, C2C the railway operating company could not run a service between Southend Central and Shoebury so a bus service was laid on, which operated every 25 minutes on Saturday and every 30 minutes on the Sunday.

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The old bridge had been designed and built for steam trains like the 4-4-2 tank engines and later the 2-6-4Ts locos. The electrification of the line took place in 1961/62, the line then operated class 302s the last retiring on 4th July 1998, sadly only two driving trailers made it into preservation both residing at the Mangapps Farm Railway Museum in Essex. In 1983 the class 307 entered service on the line the last departing in 1990. The class 310 also operated on the line alongside the class 312 which was the last slam door trains to be built for British Rail, with the last slam door train running on the 29th March 2003, sadly no class 310s made it into preservation, whilst two class 312s are owned by the Electric Railway Museum in Warwickshire. when the class 310 and 312s were phased out they were replaced with the first new Class 357 Electrostar with the first running in 1999, supplied in a dark blue colour scheme, this later was changed to a white scheme after it was found that water could get behind the vinyl covering and corrode the metal door frames. Since electrification no steam trains had operated on the line, that was until Saturday 2nd May 1990 when two steam locos visited Southend for the weekend of special services, the Saturday service was run from Fenchurch Street to Southend via Upminster and Basildon, the Sunday service operated the original London, Tilbury and Southend route. Since then such grand steam trains such as the Britannia, Duke of Gloucester and Tornado have all used the old bridge.
The bridge the day before it was removed
The platform used to manoeuvre the bridges
Removal of the old bridge on the platform
New replacement bridge on the platform
The High Street with no bridge
The old and new bridges in Tylers Avenue car park
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