Hornchurch Cattle Bridge

Walking across the bridge from Woodhall Crescent to St Andrews Park, I always call it ‘The Cattle Bridge’. But I’ve never quite understood why I call it that?

This is a footbridge that crosses the train line that goes from Upminster to Romford and essential for padestrians, as the two nearest bridge crossings are Wingletye Lane and Butts Green Way. Although there is a small padestrian crossing off Burnway.

After further research I found the following on the Upminster and Hornchurch History Facebook Group

When the line from Upminster to Romford was constructed this little bridge was built in 1893 to cross the line. However, it was never intended as a crossing for people – its sole purpose was as a cattle bridge, to allow the farmer to provide access for his cattle to his fields on either side of the track.

If you take a look at the bridge there’s a brick with the name of Joseph Hamblet, West Bromwich

This brick was provided by Joseph Hamblet who founded the Piercy Brickworks in West Bromwich in 1851 and came to specialise in blue bricks. They were much in demand in the latter half of the 19th century for railway and other industrial construction

It’s not clear if this was part of the original bridge or added later, as additional works have been done to the bridge over time, for example both the sized have been increased in size

I was lucky enough to previously have spoken to Carol Cannavan, writer of the book ‘Secret Hornchurch‘ and spoke with her to ask if she had any information. She said:

The construction of the branch line between Upminster and Romford started around 1892 and at that time Richard Banyard had a dairy farm in the area of Emerson Park – could be the link.

Thank you to Mark Whittow-Williams for providing even more information

Before the houses were built in and around Curtis Road it was farm land. The railway cut through the farmers land so they installed a cattle bridge. I was born in Curtis Road. I vaguely remember standing on that bridge and being held up to watch the steam train go through.

All of this confirms that the bridge was possibly previously used to take cattle from the Richard Banyard farm into the field opposite or maybe even into market and perhaps this should be renembered. Many people have suggested to me that they should place a sign near the bridge to remind the future generations that this is called ‘The Cattle Bridge’?

Thank you to everyone who has sent in information about The Cattle Bridge. Please let me know if you have any memories and we might reach a new article for this

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