Black Potts Railway Bridge
The Jubilee River flood relief channel joins from the north (on the Right bank below the bridge
Izaac Walton fished at Black Potts bend
King Charles II also fished here and Alexander Pope wrote of him -
Methinks I see our mighty monarch stand,
The pliant rod now trembling in his hand;
And see he now doth up from Datchet come
Laden with spoils of slaughtered gudgeons home.
1814: City of London complained to the Commissioners of -
that most serious and indictable obstruction to The Navigation lately made at the Head of Black Potts Ait. It had already cost individual Barge Masters more than the value of all the fish caught.
1850: London and South Western Railway Bridge.
1869: The Architect -
... [method] proposed Mr. Potts,
a medical gentleman of great inventive ability.
His system was adopted in sinking the piers of the Black Potts Bridge,
which crosses the Thames near Richmond[!]
Each cylinder was lowered into the river in its proper vertical position, and then loaded sufficiently to make it sink when the greatest vacuum was obtained. The vacuum was produced by means of suction pumps, and then the external pressure of the atmosphere forced the mud, sand, or gravel and water from the bottom of the cylinder up inside of it, thus allowing the cylinder to descend as much as the displacement of the material at its base in the bed of the river would allow with the force of its own weight and load. The material thus forced up into the cylinder was scooped, or dredged, out as much as possible, the operation of creating a vacuum being again and again repeated till the cylinder was sunk to the supposed proper depth. It has been said that some of the cylinders sunk when the weight of the bridge and proving load came on them. This fault, however, cannot be charged to the mode of sinking, for in that case the cylinders could not have been sunk deep enough, or they were imperfectly filled in. At the same time, if the water had been forced or kept out by means of compressed air, there would naturally have been far greater facility for seeing and insuring a good and secure foundation.
1889: A S Krausse, A Pictorial History of the Thames -
The bridge in question is of an ornamental character in three spans, and is a decided improvement on the majority of the railway bridges across the Thames.
[ This had me worried when I first read that - Can he have been talking about the current bridge? Ornamental? Well yes he was. But it has changed! See 1892. This is Krausse's sketch in 1889 - ]
Black Pott's Railway Bridge, Krausse 1889
1892: Originally each span had six ornate cast-iron arched ribs supported on iron cylinders filled with concrete and then enclosed by brick piers. The ornate arched ribs lasted only 42 years. Then they were found to be fractured and were replaced by straight wrought iron plate girders.
1897: However James Dredge's illustration still showed the 'ornate cast-iron arched ribs' -
Black Pott's Railway Bridge, Dredge, 1897
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; D230184a
1920: Fred Thacker –
Black Potts Bucks are still in existence close to the railway Bridge.
I have never seen the railway bridge mentioned in connection with the navigation; but I know from my own experience what a cruel and dark passage it is after a heavy pull up from Old Windsor in high water times.
2004. Commercial boating on the Thames, David Blagrove writes -
My last loaded trips were in late October 2004 and July 2005.
The first was from from Brentford to Cleeve Lock, with the narrow boats "Nuneaton" & "Brighton". I had brought these from Braunston in Nortamptonshire, where they were loaded with various pre-packed fuels. We went via the River Wey, where we delivered solid fuel to boats in Pyrford Marina.
There was a very strong stream running on the Thames and we started out with 45 tonnes on the pair, but delivered a considerable amount at Ash Island, just above Molesey Lock. We left Brentford on a morning tide on 28th October and went up to Weybridge that night. Next day we delivered at Ham Hoe Island and at Pyrford, finally ending up below Chertsey lock; next morning we delivered round the back of Penton Hook Island and at Docket Eddy, amongst other smaller deliveries.
At Black Potts Railway Bridge we had to single the boats out and take a towline from the bank in order to get up through the bridge against the stream.
We eventually tied above Cookham Bridge about 9.30 p.m. The last "drop" was at Goring, made about 9.00 p.m. next day (31st October) in pitch dark, and I laid the boats above Cleeve Weir and went home just before midnight!
Romney Ait is the lock Island above Black Pott's Railway Bridge, with the cut to Romney Lock on the Left bank. Going upstream keep left
Left bank island in Romney Weir stream