Bridge to carry cars again

Rothbury: Aerial View from  County Council Camera on bridge
Rothbury: Aerial View from County Council Camera on bridge

A bridge which is one of the county’s most historic structures is set to re-open next week after years of extensive strengthening works.

The Duchess of Northumberland will mark the occasion next Friday by cutting a ribbon and unveiling a plaque, before cars are allowed across Rothbury Bridge for the first time in three years.

Local schoolchildren and residents will line the bridge to celebrate the re-opening, before being invited for a light brunch afterwards in the Jubilee Hall to thank them for their support during a long and complex project.

Northumberland County Council has invested £3.7million in the bridge works and a team including engineers and stonemasons has carried out a highly complex series of works to strengthen the bridge, which was built in 1460.

Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett said: “The local residents and businesses have shown great patience and support for the work which has undoubtedly caused some disruption within the village.

“However I’m sure everyone will be delighted with the finished result and we look forward to everything getting back to normal and using the bridge for many years to come.”

The bridge across the River Coquet is in the heart of the community and closing it for any length of time was not feasible.

Engineers met the challenge by building a temporary Bailey bridge to carry traffic across the river while the work on the original bridge, subject to several constraints due to wildlife and being a scheduled monument, was completed.

When residents were consulted before work began they said they were unhappy with 20th-century alterations to the bridge.

With the consent of English Heritage, the design team constructed features last seen more than 100 years ago, such as parapets and refuges.

Coun Alan Thompson, member for neighbourhood services and highways, said: “This is a significant engineering achievement by any standards.” He added that he was ‘proud’ of the workforce.