The useful pedestrian footbridge along the southeast side of Scarborough Rail Bridge (see Image 5) facilitates a short circular walk along the banks of the River Ouse via the West Esplanade (near York Railway Station), Lendal Bridge and the Esplanade / Dame Judi Dench Walk (which runs alongside Museum Gardens). However, please note that the Esplanade and West Esplanade both lie within the functional flood plain of the River Ouse. This means that the riverside paths may be inaccessible when the river is in flood and for the duration of post-flood clean-up works.
You are here
Scarborough Rail Bridge
Scarborough Rail Bridge was built by the 'York and North Midland Railway Company' in 1845. It carries the York-Malton-Scarborough line across the River Ouse.
The stone abutments and central pier we see today date from 1845 (see Image 1), but the bridge deck was replaced in 1875 and again in 2015 (see Images 2 to 7).
A third party image (painting / book illustration) showing Scarborough Railway Bridge (as originally built) crossing the River Ouse. Source: Tomlinson, William Weaver: "The North Eastern Railway: Its Rise and Development" (1914).
At some point after the bridge's opening in 1845 (and after Image 1 was painted, but before 1875), the original bridge deck was strengthened by adding diagonal braces springing from sets of cast iron sockets. The latter were attached retrospectively to the bridge piers and they are still clearly visible today (see Images 4 and 7).
The 1875 replacement was necessary to facilitate the construction of the new railway station (see York Railway Station). In order to create workable gradients into / out of the new station, the railway tracks across Scarborough Rail Bridge needed to be raised by four feet. The replacement used four wrought iron girders to both support the railway tracks and to raise their height to the required new level.
The 2015 replacement was necessary because the girders and bridge deck installed in 1875 were considered to be 'life-expired'. The deck of the new (2015) rail bridge is supported on four steel tapered girders. Mesh grills have been fitted between the new girders to keep the pigeons out (see Image 7) as pigeon droppings contributed to the deterioration of the old girders. To retain the bridge's general appearance, a new ornamental lattice girder was installed alongside the main supporting girders on the upstream side (part of this is also visible in Image 7).
A footbridge runs alongside the rail bridge on the downstream (city-facing) side (see Images 2 to 6). The footbridge is effectively a separate structure, although it uses the abutments and central pier of the rail bridge and it has been tied-in to the adjacent rail deck to provide additional stability. The footbridge was spruced-up during the 2015 renewal works, but it did not need to be replaced. It provides excellent views of the river and the city centre skyline.
When the original (1845) bridge was built, it too incorporated a footpath to allow pedestrians to cross the river. However, this path ran between the two railway tracks (rather than along one side like the current footbridge). Using it while trains passed by on either side must have been both frightening and dangerous. The central footpath was accessed by a staircase built into each abutment.
To prevent water ingress into the abutments (and thereby reduce the risk of water- and ice-related structural damage), the staircase voids were filled during the 2015 renovations with a lightweight expanding resin called 'Benefil'.
In July 2017, York City Council began a public consultation exercise relating to proposals to replace the existing pedestrian footbridge with a new 'shared use' version. The stated objectives include widening the bridge and incorporating ramps at either end in a bid to make the bridge accessible to all.