Notes on the five known bridges crossing the Medway at Rochester.
Full text of my 1997 book. The second file contains the illustrations.
A list of the corrections and additions required, written up in 2018.
Some notes about the three nineteenth-century bridges.
Plan and section of the foundations for the new bridge at Rochester, published in Edward Cresy, Supplement to An encyclopaedia of civil engineering (London, 1856), fig. 3147. These are just sketches, not exactly to scale, not accurate in detail. It is explained in the text that the longest piles consisted of seven of the cylindrical components bolted together. In other words, they were 7 feet in diameter and 63 feet in length.
A plan of the three bridges at Rochester – old, new, E.K.R. &nash; published in the Builder, 2 Aug. 1856, p. 421.
Views of the three bridges at Rochester – old, new, E.K.R. &nash; published in the Illustrated London News, 16 Aug. 1856, p. 170. The railway bridge was apparently more or less complete by this time; but a passenger service did not begin running till 29 Mar. 1858.
The new bridge, designed by Sir William Cubitt, was begun in 1850 and completed six years later: the official opening took place on 13 Aug. 1856. This file contains some newspaper reports covering the progress of the work.
There was a fatal accident at Rochester on 13 Aug. 1855, during the construction of the foundations for the East Kent Railway bridge. This file contains some newspaper reports of the accident, and of the ensuing inquest. (Four men were working inside the pile at the time of the accident. Three were killed. The fourth, by luck and quick thinking, was able to save himself. His name was John Layton; it is mentioned, without any particular emphasis, that he was ‘a man of colour’.)
As soon as the new bridge had been completed, the Royal Engineers volunteered to help with the demolition of the old one. (They were always glad of a chance to practise blowing things up; they also got a chance to try out their diving suits.) This file contains a series of newspaper reports adding up to a fairly full account of the sequence of operations – which began with a bang in Jan. 1857 but were still not quite finished in Sep. 1860.