'A permanent traffic management solution must be found' as damage closes historic Alnwick tower
Custodians of the Bondgate Tower in Alnwick have warned that a permanent traffic management solution is required.
The 15th Century gateway into the town centre is currently closed while engineers assess crumbling stonework, thought to be caused by it being struck by vehicles on a regular basis.
Northumberland Estates, which looks after the business interests of the Duke of Northumberland and the Percy family, owns the structure, although responsibility for its vehicular use is with the highways department at Northumberland County Council.
Robin Smeaton, building manager at Northumberland Estates, said: “Ourselves, Historic England, Northumberland County Council, Alnwick Town Council and Alnwick Civic Society are all putting in a real concerted effort to find a permanent solution to prevent this ongoing damage to the Bondgate Tower given that some vehicle drivers continue to ignore the height restrictions in place.
"The latest incident has caused damage to the centre of the arch resulting in more severe structural issues and the current closure.
"However we cannot constantly continue to patch up the damaged stonework and the number of incidents is on the increase.
"It is important historic monuments such as Bondgate Tower that give the town its unique character and make it so attractive as a visitor destination and a place to live.
"A permanent traffic management solution must be found and Northumberland Estates are actively playing their part in this ongoing process.”
Historic England has previously warned that the building might need to be closed if further substantial damage occurred.
It is listed on its Heritage at Risk Register, its annual snapshot of the state of England’s most valued historic places.
Bondgate Tower is deemed a Priority A, with Historic England stating: ‘The main defects relate to damage from high-sided vehicles passing through the central portal. Further impact of a similar nature could cause a serious collapse.’
The three-storey gatehouse was founded around 1450 by the 2nd Earl of Northumberland.
In 1434, King Henry V granted a licence to crenellate a wall around Alnwick, which took over 50 years to complete.
Also known as Hotspur Gate, it was originally one of four gates, in the medieval town wall.