Frodingham Footbridge has had somewhat of a chequered history both in it’s present form and it’s original incarnation.
The original 400 feet long footbridge over the railway lines was opened on 30th July 1929; however, a partial collapse in 1954 saw the need for a new footbridge to be constructed.
In October 1956 work was progressing well on the new bridge, a dozen concrete trestles were in place to support the vital link between Scunthorpe and Frodingham. At the end of October two large cranes lifted one of the 5-ton pre-stressed concrete beams into position in a further stage on the construction process.
The 620-feet long structure cost £35,000 and replaced the previous footbridge after 90-feet of it collapsed onto the railway line below in February 1954. Prompt action had saved a trainload of passengers and three pedestrians from injury – or even death.
A shouted warning by Scunthorpe highway department workmen stopped three people who were walking over the footbridge when a section at the Station Road end started to bulge. Moments later the bottom section of the bridge crashed onto the tracks below.
It was also a warning by council highways workmen that stopped the 4:05pm Scunthorpe to Cleethorpes train, which was due in ten minutes. It was, however a race against time, the driver of the highways lorry, Bramwell Millest, rushed to the Scunthorpe train station to inform the first official he could find that the bridge had collapsed. In the meantime Robert Buckley, the councils highways superintendent, phoned the police.
It was council worker John Pick of Dunstall Street who, whilst working at the council’s Station Road depot loading sand and grit to be spread on the town’s roads, had heard what he thought to be the heavy sound of snow falling. He looked up and saw the underside of the bridge bulging, at the same time he noticed two women and a man about to cross the bridge – the women from the Station Road end and the man from Rowland Road.
Highways superintendent Robert Buckley shouted to the pedestrians to ‘Go Back!’ – shortly after the bulging section crashed to the tracks below. Mr Buckley immediately sent Mr Pick and some other men, by lorry, around to the Rowland Road side the barricade access to the bridge while he and other workmen closed the Station Road entrance.
The new Frodingham Footbridge was officially opened on 1st March 1957.
An article in magazine The Engineer from March 1957 notes; The Eastern Region of British Railways has just completed a concrete footbridge to the east of Scunthorpe station which is over 600ft in length. The new footbridge has five spans crossing, in all, five railway running lines and twenty-two sidings, with ramped approaches at each end. The five spans of the bridge total some 373ft in length and the ramped approaches are 125ft in length on the Frodingham side and 120ft in length on the Scunthorpe side ; the complete structure totalling about 620ft in length. The bridge has an overall width of 7ft 4in, overall height of 6ft, providing a footway 5ft wide and 5ft in depth from path to parapet. Concrete has been used throughout for the construction of the bridge employing a metallurgical super-sulphated acid resisting cement with granite aggregates to produce a dense mix and a finish impervious to industrial fumes. The bridge consists of pretensioned concrete beams 6ft in depth, varying between 67ft and 86ft in length, supported upon precast reinforced concrete trestles. The beams for the approaches are of reinforced concrete supported on trestles of similar construction and diminishing size from the bridge to the ramp ends. The bridge trestles are 19ft in height and some 15ft wide at the base. The clearance above rail level to the top of the trestle is 15ft 7in.
Between each pair of concrete beams forming a span of both the bridge and approaches, reinforced concrete spacer beams, 4ft 6in in length, 1ft 9in in width and 11in deep, have been placed at intervals of about 8ft. Each spacer beam was post-tensioned by four threaded steel bars passing through holes in the main beams and through the spacer beams themselves. The nuts were tightened, using torque spanners, to 125ft-lb, and the spacer beams were then pressure grouted. The deck of the bridge is formed of hollow pretensioned concrete floor units each 4ft 7in long, 1ft 2in wide and 4in deep, bedded in cement. The bridge walk is surfaced with cambered asphalt. The bridge was produced in its various sections at the contractor’s factory and transported to the site at Scunthorpe. The trestles supporting the bridge were cast as complete units (each between 6 tons and 8 tons in weight) as were the main beams which are between 30 tons and 35 tons each. Erection was carried out on Sundays.
The trestles for the bridge were first erected and then the main beams positioned. The main beams were transported in pairs by a special train to arrive on site in time for each Sunday’s work. On average, erection of one span took some twelve hours using two railway breakdown cranes to lift the beams from the rail wagons and place them in position. To avoid any turning or twisting strains being transmitted to the beams in the lifting and traversing operations, special lifting cradles were built incorporating a universal joint in the uprights. The crane positions and traversing arcs for the placing of each beam were marked out on the ground and they were followed during the positioning operations by plumb lines attached to the ends of the beams. The bridge was constructed under the general direction of Mr. A. K. Terris, B.Sc.(E.), M.I.C.E., chief civil engineer, Eastern Region. The contractor for the work was Dow-Mac (Products), Ltd., and the consulting engineers were Messrs. Rendel, Palmer and Tritton.
The footbridge has had a chequered history with numerous attacks, muggings, murder and vandalism. In the late 1980’s a cctv system was installed to add the feeling of safety for the people using the bridge and at the turn of the century new lighting was fitted.
In 2015 essential maintenance work to the bridge, by owners Network Rail, saw it closed to pedestrians during the daytime between 9th & 13th March. A spokesperson for Network Rail said, “The bridge is a long multi-span pre-tensioned structure, these are vulnerable to corrosion of the pre-tensioned cables within the structure.
“We will carry out checks on the cables and carry out work to clean up areas of concrete spalling – where the surface has flaked away – and to treat any exposed reinforcing steelwork.”
“These works are required to validate and maintain the structural integrity of the bridge.”