Thursday, 26 November 2020

The Wallingford Bypass

It's now over 20 years since the bypass round Wallingford was built. It took the over stressed road which went through the town and over Wallingford Bridge. The bypass started between Brightwell and Wallingford heading towards Hithercroft, Winterbrook and crossing the river to go through Mongewell before joining with the Reading road.
It cut through three roads and has five roundabouts to negotiate. When I first noticed that work was about to start I decided to take photo's of the work and follow the progress. I took photo's every week from various vantage points though failed to take any of the start and end parts of the bypass.
The photos were taken during 1992-93 though the winter. It was before H&S really came into being and fencing would have screened the place off. I could freely walk around the whole site and did so with many other local people 

This was the first I knew the bypass was going to be built, Posts going up along with a fence.

 Across over on the Reading road cabins had gone up  and construction machines arrived.


It was not long before that you could see the ground had been scraped up

Over the weekends the machines lay idle till  the Monday morning when they started work again.

 One of the first things that was done was the forming of two roundabouts ab the bottom of the Wallingford road at Winterbrook, they were to become the Winterbrook Roundabouts.

The Reading road and Wallinford road would change and a new bit of history started.

It was not long before the roundabouts were in place and the Wallingford road was 400 yards shorter. The mini was what I used to drive around in

The completed roundabout on the Wallingford road with the new road of the bypass to the right.

The first cut of the new road to be.

Piles being sunk deep into the ground for the bridge 

These were the foundations for the flood relief sections of the ramp .

They ended up looking like this with the concrete road deck

Filling in the ramp between the two flood relief's , I was told this was the ash from Didcot Power Station that was used here.

The Cages were backed with stones and straw 

This is what it ended up looking like and it does flood through both of them.
While all that was going on preparation work for the  bridge itself was happening on both sides of the River Thames.

Here we look towards the Mongewell side of the river, while they were building the ramps
 On the Mongewell side of the river you could see they were doing the same on that side. The one thing I did not think of at the time was going around to get a few photos but that was a long trip through Wallingford and Crowmarsh.

On the Winterbrook side they had started the foundations of the bridge support 

Both side were built together

They were built like this and then concrete was poured, That object you see to the right is one of the bridge spans that had arrived.

The were placed behind the front supports

Behind they had been building the back support


this was made a similar way

Ending up with tones of concrete being poured  I must admit at the time it was hard to work out what it did 

Over to one side of the approach road the built a service road to bring equipment down to the River.

The service road was to take this huge crane but not with out problems as the road collapsed 

You can see why here though at the time I don't think they were too happy with me being so close.
The crane had collapsed the road and it had to be packed back out. I went home after that for my tea but was told they were supposed to be lowering the bridge in 

They got the crane there eventually 

The lowered the rear section in place as I saw the next day. 

I missed the last section going in but I did not miss them lowering the Mongewell side in place
I had a ringside seat with the managers 
I even got a photo on the Oxford Mail though they did not pay me a penny

I was told by the construction crew when it was going it and it was at night
Now you did not think I would miss the centre span going in did you 

Did you see the boat well if one of these guys fell in the were on had to rescue, did I tell you it was a freezing night in November so you would not want a swim

This was the last section going in

And the bridge in place before I went home. I might admit it did not do me a  lot of good being out that night as I had to take a couple of days off after with a heavy cold

In the cold light of day it looked like this

This shows you the fron and rear supports

It was not long before thy had got the rebar in place to pour concrete

 And when the deck was poured well people went for a stroll across it and look at sights they had not seen before

The road took shape

Something I took advantage of as well

 Soon enough the road was laid to tarmac
This was not the only bridge I watch taking shape 

For some reason at the time I called this Hithercroft Bridge. It was in fact Bradfield Brook which was diverted

You can see here the brook on the left coming out of the culvert the made 

The road here running past the bridge and deck , That is my little lad in the photo

The bridge is nearly done with and they are filliong in the old culvert

This is the finished bridge and brook

The road now being formed across the bridge

I was lucky to notice where they were going to build the road from Hithercroft, this is looking towards where the bridge will be in the distance

Starting work 

This is the new road back to winter brook, you can see work beginning on Bradfield Book where the crane is

Here construction is well under way

And this is where the road is being laid

This was going on as well, it's the new Hithercroft roundabout

That is the road leading to the Brightwell roundabout

Looking across the roundabout 


Above and left the roundabout now taking shape

Above the finished roundabout. Yep I drove along the road before it opened.

Not some thing you get a chance to do everyday but there was nothing to stop you, this is looking to Winterbrook Roundabouts

One thing I missed recording was this cutting and the level crossing

Looking towards Winterbrook

The lever crossing on the first weekend the road was opened,

Closing for the train on the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway to go through

Today the bypass is used by thousands of cars,vans and lorries the drivers who probably never give it a thought as to what the countryside used to look like

The bypass looking towards Winterbrook Bridge, no trace of the service road exists now

The Winterbrook Roundabouts, this one is at the bottom of the Wallingford road where it cut through it. It was one of my reference points
  The bypass looking towards Hithercroft where it crosses the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway

and the bridge looks like this now blended into the landscape. The Thames Path runs under it & I doubt anyone spares the bridge a thought.
The photos used in the blog were taken back in 1992-3 with an Pentax ME Super, I was a total beginner in trying to learn how to use an SLR. It was also the first project I had tried to document so did not really have any sort of idea as to how to go about it, (not sure I'm any better now) If I had digital like we do now I could have taken more detail and not worry about how much film I had left.
I will go back for a few updated photos of the bridge which I have not really looked at since I took these.
The bridge is in constant use by traffic with the roads jammed on occasions like the rush hour and the constant flow. The road has collapsed between the flood relief and had to be repaired  once in the times I have used it. Wallingford bridge is still as busy and the council is considering closing it to traffic because of the damage and strain it is under. What with  all the housing being built in the area Winterbrook bridge will be in use for years to come. I have to wonder how long before they consider another bridge over the Thames

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