By Dan Walsh
Speculation about the future of the Barrow Railway Bridge at Great Island, Campile, has been gaining media coverage, however, there appears to be extraordinarily little information emanating from official sources or debate from local public representatives. This amazing bridge in a remote location is an engineering feat and part of early-20th century history and heritage.
The Barrow Bridge, built between 1902 and 1906 has been closed to traffic since 2010, carries the Rosslare to Waterford railway line and has 15 spans, two of which are electronically operated to swing about a central pivot to allow shipping through.
WexfordLocal.com would love to hear from sources that may influence the future of the railway line and the bridge, but in the meantime, here is a brief, but exciting history.
Barrow Bridge is a major example of bridge engineering with an overall length of 650-metres and up to the opening of the Foyle Bridge in 1984 was the longest bridge in Ireland.
The bridge was erected by Sir William Arrol and Company (established 1873) of Glasgow to designs by Sir Benjamin Baker (1840-1907) of London and is identified as an important component of the built heritage of south County Wexford on account of the connections with the development of the Fishguard and Rosslare Railway (FRR) line opened (1906) by the Fishguard and Rosslare Railways and Harbours (FRRH) Company: a Pratt-type lattice girder “swing span”, included to allay concerns from the New Ross Harbour Commissioners that the bridge would impact on navigation to the port and still operated to facilitate shipping following the closure of the bridge to passenger traffic in 2010 pinpoints the engineering or technical dexterity of the composition.
At the time of completion (1906) Barrow Bridge was the third longest bridge spanning entirely across water in Great Britain and Ireland, after Tay Bridge (1883-‘07) and the Sir Benjamin Baker-designed Forth Bridge (1882-90) and was until 1984 the longest bridge of any kind in Ireland.