Restoration of Victoria Bridge in Bath due to be completed by next year
Council chiefs say a permanent solution to the structural problems besetting Bath’s historic Victoria Bridge will be completed next year.
Defects were first spotted at the pioneering 19th century pedestrian bridge in October 2010, and it was closed until May of last year.
A temporary structure now allows people to cross the river alongside the old bridge, which was built by brewer James Dredge to take his beer from one side of the city to the other in 1836.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has agreed to spend up to £3.4 million on refurbishing the bridge, with work due to start later this year.
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An exhibition looking forward to the scheme, and back at the life and work of Dredge, is currently on show at the Museum of Bath at Work.
People can view and comment on the proposals and a separate scheme for the replacement of the Destructor Bridge further along the Avon until March 24.
An application for listed building consent for the refurbishment proposals will be submitted by B&NES to itself before the summer.
It says work has started to find a suitably qualified contractor to undertake the refurbishment work, which will be complete next year.
The temporary route across the bridge will remain in use until the construction work begins.
The exhibition at the Julian Road museum shows rarely-seen old illustrations of the bridge, which the council says have helped to shape its thinking on the facelift.
Dredge patented the principle of using chains rather than cables in such bridges.
Council cabinet member for transport Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib Dem, Combe Down) said: “The engineering expertise of the past is shaping the future refurbishment of this important bridge. The council has delved into history to support our aims of making the city more appealing for people on foot and who use bicycles.
“Victoria Bridge is a vital connection between communities on either side of the River Avon. It supports sustainable travel to Bath Riverside that in the coming years will support thousands of new homes and jobs for local people.
“The structure has a high heritage value which played a significant part in the story of the city’s industrial development and advanced bridge engineering through the Victorian era. The exhibition is a unique opportunity for people to explore history and have their say on these multi-million pound projects.”
The exhibition, including the proposals for the replacement of the one-way Destructor Bridge with a two way traffic bridge with pedestrian and cycleways, is open Fridays to Sundays only, 10.30am – 5pm. Anyone who cannot attend the exhibition can view the plans online at www.bathnes.gov.uk/victoriabridge.
Although the opportunity to comment closes on March 24, the exhibition continues until May 23. More details are at www.bathatwork.org.uk.