A recent incident that saw wooden beams fall from a disused rail bridge has left South Croydon residents fearing for their safety.

The bridge passing over Croham Road hasn’t been used since it was decommissioned in 1983 but poses a threat as its rotting wooden supports fall onto the busy road below.

While residents say this is a long-running issue, a recent incident of falling woodwork sparked renewed fears for the bridge’s safety.

Your Local Guardian: The bridge passes over a highly residential part of South Croydon Credit: Harrison GallivenThe bridge passes over a highly residential part of South Croydon Credit: Harrison Galliven

Local resident Gemma Brucker was at the scene when timbers fell on Tuesday afternoon (December 12).

She said: “Yesterday when walking the children home from school we were stopped and redirected by police at the disused railway bridge on Croham Road in between Normanton Road and Dornton Road.

"They said wood was falling from the bridge and that we should cross over and use the other side to pass.”

While the bridge’s owners, Network Rail, have carried out maintenance, Croham Road residents remain concerned and have suggested the bridge would be safer if completely removed or repurposed.

Your Local Guardian: Parents often pass under the bridge with their children on the way to Kinderland Day Nursery (Credit: Harrison Galliven)Parents often pass under the bridge with their children on the way to Kinderland Day Nursery (Credit: Harrison Galliven)

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) spoke to residents about their concerns following this recent incident.

James, whose house faces the bridge, said: “It’s an ongoing thing over the years that has suffered from a lack of maintenance.

"Some timber fell on the nearside of the bridge about 18 months ago, which I reported. It has been disused since 1983. Its owners, Network Rail, do almost no maintenance on it. Bits falling off the bridge is just an annual problem.”

The bridge is in a highly residential area, with the busy Kinderland Day Nursery just a few hundred yards down the road.

While no one has yet been injured by falling debris, the possibility is still a concern for residents.

James added: “The bits that fall after having rotted have been between 18 inches and 22 inches. Fortunately, no one has been underneath when this has happened.

"However, they have fallen on the pavement a number of times. I think something will only ever be done about it if a piece of wood hits a mother with a child in a pram one day. There’s a nursery just up there so children are walking up and down here all the time.”

Another resident, Jane, who was passing under the bridge with her child, said: “I do worry about it, as the road can get busy and all it takes is a beam to fall during rush hour.

"A lot of parents take their kids to school around here, especially to the nursery up the road. God forbid a beam falls and hits one of them on their way to school.”

Trespassing is another concern that plagues the bridge. James said: “There’s a real problem with trespassing.

"You get squatters and people living rough up there who then throw litter down on the embankments. They dump stuff and sleep in tents up there.

"You can often see torches up there at night, which is a danger for them but a danger for everybody else as well.

"Network Rail doesn’t do anything about the graffiti either. They say unless it’s racist or offensive they won’t do anything about it.”

Before its closure, the bridge used to carry the Woodside to Sanderstead line.

While other sections of the track have been repurposed, this bridge has remained intact and unused.

Some residents have suggested that the bridge be put to better use or removed altogether, to eliminate the safety risk.

On Facebook, local resident Bob Johnston said: “It’s a bit of a shame that it’s not been developed as a New York style ‘High Line’ project which provides a linear park and footpath.

“Something similar would be perfectly possible for this stretch of track which is about a kilometre long from Coombe Road to the old Selsdon station near Selsdon Road.

"It wouldn’t take a lot of work either as there’s only this one bridge that would need to be made safe, the rest of the line is either on an embankment or in a cutting. There’s even quite a lot of the old track left in place too.”

James was less optimistic about the bridge’s future, saying: “The other half of the line which goes under Park Hill by Lloyd Park was taken over by the tram network so this bit can never be reinstated. Plus, on Coombe Road the bridge was taken away, they should have done the same here but they didn’t because it would be cheaper not to.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Following reports of damage (on Tuesday) to the disused railway bridge on Croham Road in South Croydon, last night (Wednesday) our engineers completed the necessary repairs and replaced a number of rotten timbers on the old bridge deck.

"We would like to thank the member of public who notified us of this and local residents for their patience while we completed these repairs.

“We have been made aware of reported incidents of trespass on this old disused railway line and have notified the local police. Trespassing on the railway is illegal and is extremely dangerous and we encourage anyone who witnesses people trespassing to report it immediately.”