Demolishing historic railway bridge between Alexandra Palace and Muswell Hill is ‘most cost-effective solution’

Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge, viewed from Alexandra Park. Picture: Zoe Norfolk

Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge, viewed from Alexandra Park. Picture: Zoe Norfolk - Credit: Archant

A historic railway bridge lying between Muswell Hill and Alexandra Palace could be demolished under government plans.

Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge, viewed from Dukes Avenue. Picture: Zoe Norfolk

Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge, viewed from Dukes Avenue. Picture: Zoe Norfolk - Credit: Archant

The future of Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge, locally listed as part of the palace’s conservation area, is under threat over structural concerns and its risk to public safety.

Located on the southwestern fringe of Alexandra Park, it is owned by the Department for Transport (DfT) and maintained by Highways England, which says the bridge is one of its “highest ranked” for safety needs, and that its demolition would be “the most cost-effective solution”.

Further to the DfT’s assessment of the bridge as a public health risk, engineers fear the predicted cycle of increasing droughts followed by spells of extreme wet weather will lead to a rapid deterioration of the bridge and then an emergency closure of the popular pedestrian path beneath.

Alexandra Palace has called for at least part of the bridge’s structure to be retained while Haringey Council is “appealing” to the DfT for it to remain.

The Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association said it would be “very disappointed” to see the bridge demolished and that “all efforts” should be made to preserve a “local bit of history”.

Committee member Duncan Neill added: “Of course, safety is the main concern, and if it turns out that there is no alternative to demolition, we would expect the DfT to then create an interesting area with landscaping and some architectural feature based on what is left standing.”

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The history of Dukes Avenue Railway Bridge is closely tied to the former Alexandra Palace Station, which opened in 1873 and closed in 1954.

The bridge acted as a route between the station and the palace’s pleasure grounds.

Alexandra Palace called the bridge an “important historical feature” reflecting the character of the area.

A palace spokesperson said: “Whilst we recognise that the safety of the public has to be the primary concern and that it is not the Trust’s property, we would hope that the DfT recognise the historic importance and take every reasonable step to repair and conserve it.

“If demolition is the only option then we will encourage the DfT and the planning authority to consider a demolition that safely retains part or parts of the structure so that some of the physical heritage is retained.”

According to a notice from the palace, the bridge has attracted frequent anti-social behaviour and security fencing was installed two years ago to discourage drug dealing and vandalism. Highways England said it “understands” the bridge is “important” to Muswell Hill but that the most cost-effective solution to maintain the safety of the community is to demolish the structure.

A spokesperson said: “The Department [for Transport] is in agreement with the decision and we are in talks with Haringey Council in respect of the proposal.”

Another option would be for the town hall to take ownership of the bridge, Highways England added, a proposal it “understood” was being considered by the council.

Haringey Council said it was treating the bridge as a heritage asset and that it was in “conversation” with the DfT over how it could be maintained.