Re: Bridge or Barlow rail [1 Attachment]

Stephen Percy Larcombe

I have a couple of short sample lengths of ex Geelong railway Barlow rail (acquired from a disused stone quarry where it was used as posts).
The book "A History of the South Australian Railways Volume 1: The Early Years" ISBN 9780858490475 from ARHS Vic Div. has a good article on the development of rail and the SA use of Barlow Rail.

To: LRRSA@...
From: frank.stamford@...
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2012 14:45:58 +1100
Subject: Re: [LRRSA] Bridge or Barlow rail [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s) from Frank Stamford included below]

Hello Iain,

The rail illustrated on page 32 of LR227 is definitely bridge rail, and is definitely not Barlow rail. Any rail section with the shape and proportions of the rail illustrated on page 32 is bridge rail. It might come in a wide variety of weights from very light for mining tramways up to at least 75 lbs/yd for mainline railways. Bridge rail was apparently designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, he certainly used it on the Great Western Railway where it was screwed onto longitidinal wooden baulks. Bridge rail was not designed to be laid on conventional cross sleepers.

Barlow rail was quite different in section. The head was similar to bridge rail, but the sides were swept down in a broad curve and the base could be anything up to 10 to 12 inches wide. It came in weights of up to about 100 lbs/yd. Barlow rail was inspired by bridge rail but designed to do away with longitudinal baulks. Nor was it intended to be used with cross sleepers. It was designed to be embedded in ballast with the ballast packed up beneath it, and held in gauge by iron cross ties. Barlow rail had a brief period of popularity in the early 1850s but was soon found to not work as intended.

Barlow rail was used by the Geelong & Melbourne Railway Co. (which opened around 1857) but was got rid of as soon as possible. There are some photographs of highly corroded examples of this in Light Railways No. 197.   

I believe there may have been some Barlow rail used in places on the Sydney - Parramatta line, and parts of the Port Adelaide line in South Australia. If that is the case then it would not have lasted long in service and may have been sold off for industrial use, as was the case with the Geelong & Melbourne material.



On 24/10/2012 1:13 PM, Iain Stuart wrote:

Having just got a copy of October Light Railways I was wondering whether anyone can provide an authoritative enlightening about the differences between “Bridge” and “Barlow” rail (see pp 32). I have been working on a site which has what I thought was Barlow rail but might it be Bridge rail? How would I know?




Dr Iain Stuart


JCIS Consultants

P.O. Box 2397

Burwood North

NSW 2137



(02) 97010191



Join to automatically receive all group messages.