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17th July 2019 - Visit

Swanage Railway &
          Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museums

For the July meeting we will be visiting the Swanage Railway Museum at Corfe Castle and the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum at Norden, travelling between the two by train. Numbers are limited so booking essential. Names will be taken by email only now to Alan Green.  Times and details as shown on attachment to recent S&T Group email.

No S&T Meetings are scheduled for August 2019

18th September 2019 - Colin Divall

Canford Manor’s “splendid archway
      under the South-Western Railway”, ca 1844-55

Bridge 77 is a remarkable structure, a survivor of mid-19th century railway building in southern England. Popularly known as ‘Lady Wimborne’s Bridge’ after an occupant of the surrounding Canford Manor estate, near Wimborne, Dorset, the structure’s highly ornamented surfaces are commonly said to represent the aristocracy’s power over insurgent industrial capital – the railway. In line with the histories of similar structures elsewhere in the UK, the manorial arms and other embellishments are taken to be the price paid by the railway company for driving its line through the estate and over the access road to the manor.

A nice story – for which there is no evidence! Instead this talk draws upon a wide range of sources, including site visits, to argue that far from being a symbol of aristocratic power, the bridge resulted from a compromise between landed and industrial capital in which the latter did rather better than the former.

Easy access to Wimborne railway station is the key to understanding not only the bridge’s construction but also that of the carriage drive passing through it. The ostentatious embellishment represented not the confidence of an ancient, long-settled family but the need felt by recently arrived, upwardly mobile industrialists to make their mark. Contemporary commentators duly lauded the estate’s ‘splendid archway under the South-Western Railway’ but ignored the fact that the London & South Western Railway paid little, if anything, towards the bridge’s construction.

As the Manor’s now-ennobled capitalists started motoring before the First World War, the carriage drive began to fall out of use. By the 1970s Bridge 77 was virtually forgotten: but now it is publicly accessible as part of a recreational trail, the Stour Valley Way (part of the Castleman Trailway). All that is needed is some imaginative interpretation to tell the ripping yarn of its genesis…