A view of bridge 99 from the now demolished up platform. This is at 55m 10 1/2ch and takes what is now the B4184 Finstall Road over the line. In the bridge register it is described as Park Road A448. There was no road bridge here when the line was built in 1840. At that time bridge 99 was a skew bridge under the line a little way to the north. There were many complaints about the Skew bridge as it was often muddy and dangerous and so was replaced by a bridge at this location in 1894 and took on the number 99.
The Skew bridge is described in Herbert Spencers autobiography as it had to be rebuilt even before the line opened.
As you can see this bridge has also been rebuilt but retains the old abutments.
Just north of this bridge was once a wooden footbridge, No 98 which was probably dismantled when the road bridge was built. This footbridge was popular with children and the local paper described what the children called ballooning with their caps. There were holes in the wooden planking and by placing their caps over these holes as a train approached would see them thrown into the air by the blast from the engines.
The rebuilt Bridge 97 looking from the up platform of the now demolished station.
105 at 54m 22ch is what I call Pikes Pool Lane bridge but is known as Guise's on the bridge register probably after the original land owner. The bridge has a 15 foot span.
LIFE ON THE LICKEY
The next bridge would logically be 103a but there is no number on the bridge plate. It takes the Incline over the dual carriageway A448 Bromsgrove to Redditch road.
101 at 54m 63ch is my favourite bridge and was known as The House. On the bridge register it is described as having two 12 foot stone segmental arches 2 foot thick. It is an occupational bridge and a stream flows through one side. This bridge is one of two on the Incline that are grade 2 listed. Details can be found on the Historic England web site where it is listed as 1399788.
Culvert 105a just north of Pikes Pool Lane bridge.
Not on the Incline but just one that I like. It is (84) at 58m 63 3/4ch and takes the line over Astwood Lane south of Stoke Works Junction. The bridge over Shaw Lane (87) at Stoke Works was similar to this before it was rebuilt.
This is not a subject that you often read about but when you look a bit closer and find out a bit about them they are very interesting. The bridge numbers and mileages are from a bridge register which can be found on Michael Clemmens Railways web site along with a lot of other interesting things.
The bridge numbers would appear to be the original Birmingham and Gloucester numbers starting from Gloucester. The mileages are from Derby. Some old Midland Railway plans give mileages from Gloucester and show milepost 38 just a short way up the bank from bridge 97.
Starting at the bottom of the bank the first two bridges are replacements and are not so interesting now.
Lickey Bridge Walk
Starting from the railway station, follow the line past the old station site and up the hill to the mini island. Turn right past the Ladybird and Banners shop where you could stock up with provisions or take refreshments in the cafe. Turn right again into St Godwalds Road and proceed past the fish and chip shop to Bridge 97 with its view of the old station site, the new station and up the Incline towards Bridge 99.
Cross the road and take the footpath which follows the line to Bridge 99 from where it is possible to see all the way up the Incline. Just north of here is the site of the wooden footbridge.
Cross the road and enter the graveyard where you will find the grave of William Creuze and more recent railwaymen such as Charlie Evans, Trevor Evans, Jack Bishop and Sid Wheeley to name but a few.
Leaving the graveyard turn left and continue up the Finstall Road and turn left into Heydon Road where you will find a footpath on your left. Follow the path under the line at Bridge 102 Grosvenor's.
Turn left and follow the path to Bridge 101 The House which is not so easy to see with the trees having grown up . 7 1/2 chains (165 yds) further on is Bridge 100 Everett's.
Retracing you steps to the bridge instead of turning right under the bridge carry on following the line and you should come out by Bridge 103 Finstall.
Turn right under the bridge and follow the road to the junction with Pikes Pool Lane on the left.
Turn left up Pikes Pool Lane where you may be able to see Occupation Bridge 104 across the field. Be careful from here as there is no footpath and the road can be quite busy.
From Bridge 105 Guise's you have two options. One is to follow the lane, be careful as it is narrow and can be quite busy, to its junction with Alcester Road where you can turn right up a service road in front of some houses and then the footpath to Vigo Bridge 106 being careful of the barbed wire on your right. Take note of the Big Bertha weather vane on one of the houses.
Alternatively you can take the marked footpath before the bridge which will take you up the hill to Hewell Road where you turn left down to Vigo. Be very careful if you do this as the road down to the bridge is narrow, very busy and has no footpath.
Going uphill from Vigo there is a footpath across the field and then following the line to the final bridge on the Incline, 107 at Blackwell Road. At the present time,September 2016, the field is being used as a compound for the electrification work so the footpath may not be open.
The alternative is to return to the end of Pikes Pool Lane, cross the road and continue up Blackwell Road to the bridge. Be careful as the road is narrow. Near the junction of Blackwell Road and Pikes Pool Lane you will find Burcot Garden Centre where refreshments are available during opening hours.
If you want to continue to the top of the Incline then go under the bridge and follow the road until Agmore Road where you will turn left finally arriving at Bridge 108.
Just past the bridge is what was the drive to Blackwell station but is now a Private road.
When a down platform was put back in a new bridge was built, presumably 96 again.
Unusually the new bridge displays it's number. It couldn't be 96 as the other footbridge was still in existance until shortly after the new station opened. 95a was the number of a culvert four chains south of here but it has probably gone along with 95b which would have been under the station site.
Bridge 93 Newton Bridge or Garringtons bridge as some call it is at 55m 671/2ch. It dates from 1933 when it replaced the original brick arch bridge which went over the two lines. This was when the line to Stoke Works was quadrupled. It was always a popular place with enthusiasts as it gave a good view of the bank engine siding.
103 at 54m 45 1/4ch known as Finstall and taking the line over the old A491 which was once the main road from Bromsgrove to Redditch is interesting as it is described as having three arches, one of 18 feet for the road and two of 5 feet for pedestrians. As can be seen from the photograph one of the pedestrian arches has been filled in.
Bridge 100 at 54m 70 1/2ch was an occupation bridge with a 12 foot span known as Everett's. The Everett family owned land here when the line was built. In 1925 an article in the local paper from 30 years earlier was repeated. This was an interview with a Mr Joseph Guise who remembered when the line was opened and there was a shortage of accommodation in the area for all the navvies. "The railway bridge opposite the entrance to Finstall Park was at that time (1840) made into an inhabited house, the offside being blocked up and remaining so ever since." I have not been able to find this bridge yet but will search again when the undergrowth has died down a bit.
102 Grosvenor's is another occupation bridge at 54m 51 1/4ch. A public footpath from Heydon Road goes under this bridge to houses on the other side of the line.
107 at 53m 43 1/2ch is the other bridge that is grade 2 listed. This bridge on Blackwell Road is known as Alvechurch or Burcot on the bridge register and has a span of 15 foot 9 inches. As the embankment is very high at this point the distance between the parapets is 94 foot 6 inches and makes it almost a tunnel. This is the final bridge on the Incline and the next is at Blackwell 53m 13 1/2ch. It is No 1399817 on the Historic England web site.
104 at 54m 31 1/2ch is an unamed occupation bridge of 9 foot span which it is just possible to see from Pikes Pool Lane.
Finstall Road bridge being rebuilt c2002. Photo Neil Gordon.
As well as these bridges there are also culverts which are numbered 99a at 55m 5 1/2ch, 100a at 54m 55ch, 101a at 54m 60 1/2ch, 103a at 54m 39ch, 105a at 54m 18ch and 105b at 53m 70ch. How many of these still exist I don't know, I've only been able to photograph one. These culverts have spans of 1'8" to 3', all built with brick except the two larger ones which were of stone.
Bridge 97 55m 27ch takes St Godwalds Road over the line at the foot of the bank. The road was once known as Factory Lane and Finches End Lane.
106 at 53m 59ch is probably the most well-known bridge called Vigo after the local area. It has a span of 16 foot 11 inches and crosses the B4096 Alcester Road/Hewell Lane. This is also the site of the only foot crossing on the Incline, something that is essential as the road under the bridge is very dangerous for pedestrians.
Bridge 108 in Station Road, Blackwell 53m 13 1/2ch, rebuilt but in need of some repair work.
Bromsgrove Station footbridge (96) in 1967. There had been complaints for many years and finally this bridge was built around 1877. When the station was demolished and replaced by a single platform a bridge was no longer required.