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.