Heritage Locations

Laira Bridge

Rail bridge across the River Plym that carried the LSWR and GWR


Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Billacombe Road, Plymouth PL9 7HG


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) operated between 1838 and 1922, with a network that ran from London to Plymouth via Salisbury and Exeter, with branches to Ilfracombe and Padstow and - via Southampton - to Bournemouth and Weymouth. Routes connected towns in Hampshire and Berkshire, including Portsmouth and Reading. In the grouping of railways in 1923 the L&SWR became part of the Southern Railway. 

Laira Bridge carried the L&SWR branch to Turnchapel over the River Plym between Plymouth and Plymstock. The GWR also had running powers over the bridge in order to access their Yealmpton branch at Plymstock. 

The construction of the iron bridge across the Laira was undertaken by Messrs Relf and Pethick, it having been authorised by Act of Parliament in 1883 as part of a line to Turnchapel. Although it was completed by 1887, and was opened in July 1892, no passenger trains were allowed to use it until September 1892, after some modifications had been made to the signalling infrastructure.

Soon it was being used by up to twenty four passenger trains a day to Turnchapel and another ten to Yealmpton plus their return workings and a couple of freight trains a day. After the passenger services to Turnchapel and Yealmpton had ceased in the 1950s, the lines were curtailed at Plymstock Station to form a goods line to a new Associated Portland Cement works.

Traffic finally ceased in the 1990s and the rails on either side of the Bridge were removed; the rails remain in place on the bridge.


Atterbury, Paul, Along Country Lines: Exploring the Rural Railways of Yesterday, David & Charles, ISBN-10: 0715322028 (2007)

Dendy Marshall, C. F., History of The Southern Railway, Ian Allan, ASIN: B001MWCLUM (1968)

Emerson, George Rose, Guide to the London & South-Western Railway, University of Michigan Library, ASIN: B002IT693I (2009)

Faulkner, J. N. & Williams, R. A., The London and South Western Railway in the 20th Century, David & Charles, ISBN-10: 0715389270 (1988)

Hamilton, E. C., The South Western Railway: Its Mechanical History and Background 1838-1922, George Allen & Unwin, ASIN: B000KDRZQO (1962)

Morgan, John Scott, London and South Western Railway Miscellany, OPC Railprint, ISBN-10: 0860935841 (2003)

Nock, O. S., The London & South Western Railway, Ian Allen, ISBN 0-7110-0267-3 (1971)

Whitehouse, Patrick & Thomas, David St.John, The Great Western Railway: 150 Glorious Years, David & Charles, ISBN-10: 0715387634 (2002)

Williams, R. A., The London & South Western Railway, Vol 1: The Formative Years, David and Charles, ISBN-10: 071534188X (1968)

Williams, R. A., The London & South Western Railway, Vol 2: Growth and Consolidation, David and Charles, ISBN-10: 0715359401 (1968)

Opening Times:
Permanently viewable

How To Find:
By road: Off A379 Billacombe Road


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