The Severn Rail Bridge in 1913.
This view is from the Lydney end of the bridge at Purton
The bridge was constructed between 1875 and 1879. It was opened on October 17th1879 and remained (excluding ferries) the first possible crossing of the Severn until the Severn Tunnel was opened in 1886. The Severn Rail Tunnel with a length of 4.75 miles passes beneath the river near the site of the second Severn crossing. Until 1960 the Severn Rail Bridge allowed passage across the Severn. On 25th October 1960 a shipping accident in thick fog lead to the collapse of 2 of the spans at the cost of 5 lives. School-children from Berkley were no longer able to attend school in Lydney. The bridge stood for several years with the missing spans but was never repaired and was subsequently dismantled in 1969.
Thanks to Mike Collins who added (Feb 2007) "The engine driver who drove the first train across when it opened was John Henry Palmer, my great grandfather. He recieved an extra guinea for his trouble".
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