Barrow Bridge

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Barrow Bridge
A boat passing through the opening of Barrow Bridge with 3 tug boats helping
A photo of Barrow Bridge open with a boat passing through.
Coordinates 52°24′49″N 6°56′48″W / 52.413630°N 6.946583°W / 52.413630; -6.946583Coordinates: 52°24′49″N 6°56′48″W / 52.413630°N 6.946583°W / 52.413630; -6.946583
Carries Trains
Crosses River Barrow
Locale County Kilkenny and County Wexford
Other name(s) Barrow Viaduct
Barrow Railway Bridge
Maintained by Iarnród Éireann
Design pratt truss
Material steel
Total length 2,131 ft (650 m)
Clearance below 26 ft (7.9 m)
Architect Sir Benjamin Baker
Constructed by Sir William Arrol
Fabrication by Sir William Arrol and Co.
Construction start 1902
Construction end 1906
Opened 1906[1]
Closed 2010[2]
Replaces 1887 viaduct
Barrow Bridge is located in Ireland
Barrow Bridge
Barrow Bridge
Location in Ireland

Barrow rail bridge, (or the Barrow viaduct), is a pratt truss[3] type of railway bridge that spans the river Barrow between County Kilkenny and County Wexford in the south east of Ireland. This rural landmark[1] with a length of 2,131 ft (650 m) is the longest bridge on the river.[4] It was second longest bridge in Ireland[5][4] and the third longest rail bridge in the British Isles.[5][4] Designed by Sir Benjamin Baker and built by the firm of Sir William Arrol. It is known locally as Barrow bridge.

Part of a development to improve cross-channel passenger services.[4][6] Incorporating an 1887 viaduct, the steel truss single track bridge was built between 1902 and 1906 by English and Irish railway companies, it operated passenger services between Rosslare Harbour and Waterford until 2010. It is maintained by Iarnród Éireann, the Irish rail operator.[6]

This bridge is one of six rail bridges of 45 bridges on the Barrow.[4] It spans the river just upstream from its confluence with another of the three sisters the River Suir. Close to Great Island Power Station near Cheekpoint. It is the last bridge on the river Barrow and opens approximately twice daily to permit shipping and yachts to pass upstream to New Ross.[citation needed]


It is an important element of the early twentieth-century transport heritage of Kilkenny and Wexford.[1] Part of the development of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway.[1][7][6] Built as a joint venture between the "Fishguard and Rosslare Railways & Harbors Company (FRR + H Co)" and the Great Southern and Western and Great Western. To improve cross-channel passenger services the Rosslare Strand to Waterford.[4][6] After the Tay Bridge and Forth Bridge it was the third longest rail bridge in the British Isles.[5][4]

The New Ross branch had opened in 1887 and in 1904 it was extended from New Ross to Waterford, this allowed connection with the Great Southern and Great Western and the south of Ireland. It carried the railway from Waterford to Wexford and on to Rosslare Harbour. The line followed the left bank of the river Suir over its course through County Kilkenny. This route contains four bridges, the Barrow Viaduct and three single span over minor streams.[3] The line was built from 1902 and the bridge was reopened by 1906.[1][5][6]


This elegant and pragmatic bridge represents is striking rural landmark on the River Barrow.[1] Designed by the consulting engineer to the Rosslare & Waterford Railway,[8] Sir Benjamin Baker.[5] Baker had been responsible, with Sir John Fowler, for the design of the Forth Rail Bridge,[8] and had designed the Keady viduct and Tassagh viaduct.[8] An 1887 viaduct built to designs prepared by Dixon (fl. 1887) and Alfred Thorne (fl. 1887-96)[1] was incorporated the fabric of the 1906 railway bridge.[1]

The steel bridge was supplied and built by the building contractor Sir William Arrol Sir William Arrol and Co.. The Glaswegian firm were engineers and bridge builders, of Dalmarnock, Scotland.[5][9] Arrol had also worked on the Forth Rail Bridge. A rural landmark on the Barrow[1] it is of identical design to the Suir Viaduct.[3]

The track used 87lb bullhead rail. The timber sleepers were "laid in 45-foot lengths".[6] The signalling system was Electric Train Staff (ETS) with lower quadrant semaphore signals.[6] This single track was the longest railway bridge in Ireland at a length of 2,131 ft (650 m).[5][5]


Barrow Bridge open to allow boat upstream to New Ross (1997).

This bridge one of six rail bridges crossing the Barrow and is one of 45 bridges on the river.[4] The single track steel railway bridge incorporated an earlier 1887 viaduct.[1] On the rail line there is a short tunnel on the Kilkenny side and a tunnel of 217 yd (198 m) on the Wexford side.[5] It stands 26 ft (7.9 m) above the high water mark,[5]

Each of its 13 main spans of 148 ft (45 m)[5] are supported on twin cast iron piers.[3] The two central spans are pivoted to allow boats to pass through,[3] this is a swiveling single drum pier of 215 ft (66 m), and the end spans are 144 ft (44 m).[5][1] The utilitarian bridge[1] has lattice parapets incorporating steel coping[1] with minimal superfluous ornamentation.[1]

In 2014 it was listed by an An Taisce in its "Buildings at Risk Register".[2] An Taisce records "The structure does not appear to be maintained and there are obvious signs of deterioration." and that "a conservation management plan should be applied to it, to help preserve our rail heritage".[2]

See also[edit]




Further reading[edit]

  • Duffy, John (2007). Barrow bridges and related aspects. Tullow, County Carlow: John Duffy. ISBN 9780955418419. 

External links[edit]