Disappearing: Network Rail criticised for demolition of historic farm bridge
A STONE bridge which spanned the Falmouth branch line for more than a century has been destroyed to save Network Rail maintenance costs.
The bridge, which was at the end of the Penmere station platform, is believed to have been created at the same time the railway opened in 1863. It was used to get cattle across the tracks safely when there were only fields on either side.
Although it has not served a particular purpose for many years, the removal of it without any warning has been severely criticised, particularly by the Friends of Penmere group.
Steve Lloyd, honorary chairman, said: "We are shocked and dismayed at the sudden demolition and destruction of the old farm bridge. The bridge was a sturdy, well-constructed piece of architecture, built out of cut stone. It was used for farm access in days gone by.
"It blended well into the railway landscape and gave the station a special extra atmosphere.
"Yes, it was overgrown at the top, but the structure seemed sound; indeed one of the demolition gang said there was nothing wrong with it – why knock it down? If it had to come down for whatever reason, surely the views and opinions of local residents and other interested parties should have been taken into consideration?
"We are sure that many people who knew the bridge will be annoyed and upset that this landmark of old Falmouth has suddenly disappeared without any consultation by Network Rail with the local community.
"As custodians of Penmere Station for more than 16 years, our small group of volunteers hope we have enhanced a special railway atmosphere at the small station. Part of that atmosphere was the old stone bridge over the tracks towards Truro – now just a memory."
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Network Rail is funded to enhance and maintain rail infrastructure to enable the safe operation of the railway. Unfortunately we are not funded to carry out aesthetic work. Old Farm Bridge, which was built for private access only, has become disused and it wouldn't justify best use of taxpayers' money to continue to keep a redundant structure."