Victoria Bridge Severn Valley
What can I expect when visiting Victoria Bridge?
You can see the Victoria Bridge from either side of the River Severn and you can start your trip upriver or downriver. In this guide, we are going to walk along the eastern bank of the Severn from Upper Arley to Trimpley Reservoir. Please note, the west bank is ideal for train-spotting.
Pick up the Severn Way at Upper Arley, the path is clearly marked at the northern entrance of the footbridge. Follow the way south and you will eventually see the glorious arch of the bridge spanning the river.
The Severn Way continues under a small arch in the abutment.
As you approach this small arch, notice the Great Western Railway boundary markers in the ground, which were installed in 1904.
The sunlight shines on the other side of the bridge. From this angle, we can get a better view of the four ribs that constitute the single arch and its intermingling iron latticework. Can you spot the manufacturer’s mark in the middle? It reads ” Messrs. Brassey & Co., Contractors.” “Victoria Bridge 1861 John Fowler, Engineer” “Cast and erected by the Coalbrookdale Company”.
If you are lucky, you may be able to spot a heritage service crossing the bridge. You may wish to wait for a service or continue to Trimpley Reservoir, which offers scenic views of the Severn Valley and opportunities for bird watching and picnicking.
How long does it take to see Victoria Bridge?
It will take you around 15 minutes to stop by the bridge and climb one of the embankments; therefore, we recommend you include the Victoria Bridge as a stop on a walk along the Severn. Our favourite route in the Upper Arley Circular Walk.
Is Victoria Bridge suitable for a picnic?
You can get away with a picnic by the bridge; however, the banks of the Severn are narrow in a lot of places. For that reason, we recommend picnicking at Upper Arley or Trimpley Reservoir.
How do I get to Victoria Bridge?
You can only access the bridge by foot or bicycle. If you are arriving by car, there is a car park in Upper Arley, and another in Eymore Woods near Trimpley Reservoir. You may also catch a heritage service on the Severn Valley and alight at Arley, then walk down the hill, across the footbridge over the Severn at Upper Arley.
History of Victoria Bridge Severn Valley Railway
1859 – The foundation stone is laid on 24th November by Henry Orlando Bridgeman, resident engineer of the Severn Valley Railway (SVR).
1861 – The bridge is completed in May and was reputed to be the largest single iron arch span in the country at the time .
1948 – The Severn Valley Railway is nationalised, and ownership of the Victoria Bridge is transferred to British Railways.
1962 – A proposal to close the line between Shrewsbury and Bewdley is submitted.
1963 – The Severn Valley Railway is also included in the British Railway Board’s report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, which is commonly known as ‘The Beeching Report’ . The closures proposed the preceding year come into effect  and were most definitely backed up by data in this report.
1965 – The Severn Valley Railway Society is formed.
1974 – Operations to Bewdley via the Victoria Bridge begin.
1979 – The bridge undergoes a major refurbishment, which includes the installation of 54 new steel beams to replace the old rotten transverse timber baulks that formed the decking, replacement of more than 50% of the plate-work by 6 tons of new top plate, and the replacement of 3,500 rivets by high tensile friction grip bolts. The bridge was also completely repainted consuming 1,200 litres of paint. The final cost was approximately £94,346 (£508,000 in 2021) .
1987 – The bridge is first designated as a listed structure .
2004 – Another major refurbishment is completed, which included replacing the 1970s wooden bridge deck with a new steel mesh deck. The bridge was re-opened by a young lady named Victoria Bridge from Cradley Heath. The refurbishment received a commendation in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ 2005 Historic Bridge and Infrastructure Awards .
Architecture and dimensions
The 200 ft (61 m) single arch is made of cast iron and the abutments of rusticated sandstone ashlar. The main span is a segmental arch composed of four ribs each formed from nine H-section cast-iron pieces bolted together. The track above is supported by a network of iron struts. The rusticated ashlar abutments have plain parapets and are each pierced by a segmental arch of blue brick with a moulded string course at springing level .
Additional details on the construction of Victoria Bridge are available here.
- Nabarro, G. (1971) Severn Valley Steam. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
- British Railways Board (1963) The Reshaping of British Railways Part I: Report. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.
- (1963) ‘Second blow’, Birmingham Daily Post, 25 September, p. 17.
- SVRWIKI (2020) Victoria Bridge. Available at: https://www.svrwiki.com/Victoria_Bridge (Accessed: 20 April 2022).
- Historic England (2020) Victoria Bridge. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1100657 (Accessed: 20 April 2022).