Blue Brick Bridge, Shotgate


Chris Stewart


Further to my article about the late lamented Service 251 in EBN 433 [click here to view], readers might be interested in some further information about the rebuilding of Blue Brick Bridge, Shotgate (where Southend Road goes under the Wickford - Southminster railway line).


City Coach Company route 1 from London to Southend operated under it with single-deckers, as did Westcliff with their parallel route 16 (sold to City in 1935). Derek Giles has added that the previous bridge was in fact just high enough for a lowbridge double-decker (usually about 13'4") but the shape of the bridge involved the bus being on the wrong side of the road London-bound, and the Traffic Commissioners (Metropolitan area) would not sanction this four times an hour.


I have now seen a number of photographs (thanks to Frank Church, Andy Rush, the Great Eastern Railway Society and Industrialogical Associates) showing the original bridge in 1959 and rebuilding under way in January 1961. Headroom of 13’9” is clearly indicated, but a footway on one side and the skewed nature of the bridge confirm the problems involved.  In 1934 Westcliff bought lowbridge double-deck AEC Renown JN4612 (see EBN435) which was said to have been for the London service, and there is a letter from a C A Lucas in ‘Buses Illustrated’ (c.1960) confirming its (brief) use. He also states that two other double-deckers (Regents) were used for a short time but that one struck this bridge and that single-deck working was reinstated as a result.


Post-War, City obtained a large number of double-deckers, most of which were of lowbridge pattern but despite this the main service was diverted via Battlesbridge because of the bridge at Shotgate (with restrictions on local journeys insisted upon by BR and Eastern National). As an interesting aside, there is now information from the Journal of the Leyland Society suggesting that City’s only highbridge double-deckers LD1/2 (LEV917/8) were also intended to be of lowbridge design (of which more another time). I do just wonder if City either thought they could persuade the post-War Traffic Commissioners that it was alright to use double-deckers through Blue Brick Bridge, or else if the rebuilding of the bridge had been proposed a lot earlier; it looks to be in fairly poor condition in the 1959 photographs. Once rebuilt, double-deckers could use it with ease and began doing so in June 1961.


If anyone can add anything to the above, please let me know (address on front cover). Incidentally the lack of safety measures during the rebuilding work makes interesting viewing 40 years on.


© Chris Stewart/EBEG, 2003

23 January 2001