M&GN Breydon Viaduct

The viaduct over Breydon Water was the largest and grandest engineering structure on the whole of the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway network. It was used to connect Yarmouth Beach station with the Great Eastern Railway line from Yarmouth South Town at Gorleston. Breydon viaduct consisted of five spans, the second of which (from the southern end) was an opening one which rotated horizontally around its mid-point, allowing two 60ft clearways for shipping to pass.
The opening span was on a central pivot of cast iron and moved on circular ball-bearings, 2 inches in diameter. It is said that the bridge was so free-running that it could be turned by hand by a single person.
The total cost of the structure was £38453 and work began in 1899, separate contracts being granted for Foundations and Piers, Superstructure and Hydraulic equipment. On July 8th 1903 the viaduct was tested successfully with a train of heavy engines and it opened shortly afterwards.
The bridge unfortunately had a short life and closed prior to the rest of the M&GN network in 1953. Trackwork remained in situ for several years afterwards but destruction began in 1962 although the quality of the original work meant that the pilings could not be removed at that time. It was only when the new road bridge, following the original route, was built in the late 1980s that these foundations were finally taken out, they being in the wrong position to be reused.

  Picture Gallery (Click on picture for larger view)
    Opening span
This view of the bridge shows its central opening section which was normally kept in the opened position to allow the frequent boat traffic to pass.
(April 1955 - Arnold Blake)
    Boat traffic
Viewed from the southern end the open span and the three northern spans can be seen.
(April 1955 - Arnold Blake)
    Southern spans
The southernmost three spans, including the opening section can be seen in this view taken from near the Vauxhall bridge.
(April 1955 - Arnold Blake)
    Along the bridge
This view, looking along the track from the southern end, reveals detail of the bridge's steelwork showing the strength of its construction.
(April 1955 - Arnold Blake)
    Boat's eye view
A view taken from the yacht "Starshell" as it approaches one of the two open clearways provided by the opened span of Breydon viaduct.
(c1958 - Ray Jones)
    Breydon Viaduct demolition
After little more than 60 years life, destruction of the old viaduct began in March 1962 with the spans being taken down one by one. Shown here is the first to fall with the demolition company's crane visible on the right.
(1962 - R.F.Bonny Collection, courtesy Mrs R.F.Bonny & G.L.Kenworthy, M&GNC copyright)