Network Rail has donated the Handyside Bridge, which until two years ago ran through the middle of King’s Cross station, to the Mid-Hants Railway, a not for profit organisation which operates a fleet of steam locomotives in Ropley, Hampshire. The attraction, known as the Watercress Line, aims to preserve the sights, sounds and smells of Britain’s railway heritage from 1940 – 70.
David Snow, from Mid Hants Railway said: “We are absolutely delighted to have acquired this historic bridge for re-location to The Watercress Line. We have long wanted a footbridge to provide a viewing location across our tracks and to acquire this one, which has featured in a number of the Harry Potter films, will be an excellent addition to our railway.”
Karen Celisse, from Network Rail said: “As King’s Cross station goes through a radical transformation to provide facilities passengers need in the 21st Century, it is great news that such an important part of its history can be preserved and used by future generations. Finding an appropriate home for it was no easy task as there are very few places which could have accommodated it without removing large sections. The Mid-Hants Railway was the obvious choice.”
The bridge was removed over the Christmas period in 2009. It had been abandoned by passengers over many years as they found the steep steps hard to scale. By the time plans to redevelop the station were being made, only Harry Potter fans and station staff ever used it.
The bridge has now been moved to Eastleigh on the back of nine lorries where it will be shot blasted and painted over several weeks. It is hoped that the first section will be installed before the end of the year.
In spring next year, a new bridge designed by scheme architects John McAslan & Partners will open, to link the station’s brand new concourse with the main train shed. Passengers will be able to move directly from the shops and cafes on the mezzanine level across the bridge, and access the platforms via escalators or lifts, which will make the entire station fully accessible for all.
Paddy Pugh, English Heritage’s planning director for London said:“For over 100 years the Handyside Bridge had been a distinctive and well-known part of King’s Cross Station, but the transformation of this great Victorian building into a 21st century railway terminus meant that it needed a new home. English Heritage is delighted that the bridge has now found that new home on the Watercress Line where it can continue to be part of England’s outstanding railway heritage”.
Andy Savage of the Railway Heritage Trust said: “The storage and restoration of the bridge demonstrates how Network Rail is handling its heritage assets responsibly, and can modernise its products whilst still ensuring its past is preserved.”
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