Heritage Locations

Selby Swing Bridge

Railway swing bridge over the river Ouse


Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Ousegate, Selby North Yorks YO8 8BH


Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The swing bridge was built for the North Eastern Railway by Nelson & Co with ironwork by the Cleveland Bridge Company and the swing mechanism engineered by Sir W.G.Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. The supervising engineer was Thomas Eliot Harrison. The bridge carries the railway line from Leeds to Hull over the River Ouse. It was part of the original east coast main line, rerouted to avoid the Selby Coalfield in 1983 and the first purpose built section of high-speed railway in the UK having a design speed of 125 mph. The original route north of Selby was closed and subsequently converted into a cycle track, with the section passing Barlby and Riccall used to build a bypass road. The southern section remains in operation, used by passenger services to Doncaster & London. 

The bridge sits due east of Selby station and has five spans, some of which cross roads. One fixed span of 33 m (110 ft 6in) crosses the river, as does the swing span of 40 m (130 ft). A small span cross a footpath at the northern end. Two main girders make up the spans. Both tracks of the rail line sit on full length cross girders. The substructure is supported on cylinders that go down 23.8 m (78 ft) to sandstone.

The swing span moves on 24 cast steel rollers, 0.8 m (2ft 6in) in diameter. Its main girders are 40 m (130 ft) long and are at 8 m (26 ft) centres. The pivot point is not in the middle - the two arms are 13.7 m (45 ft) and 25.9 m (85 ft) long. Because they are unequal, a 83.5 tonnes balance weight was needed at the north end. 

There was an earlier opening bridge at this site built in 1839; a cast iron two-leaf trunnion bascule bridge that formed part of the Hull & Selby Railway.


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Turnock, David, An Historical Geography of Railways, Ashgate, ISBN-10: 1859284507 (1998)

Opening Times:
Viewable at all times from Ousegate

How To Find:

By road: Off A63, Barlby Road

By rail: Selby Station is adjacent


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