Berwick's historic Old Bridge reopens following £900,000 refurbishment

The reopening of Berwick Old Bridge following a major restoration project has been warmly welcomed.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 5:50 pm
Berwick's Old Bridge has reopened to traffic and pedestrians following a major renovation project.

Both traffic and pedestrians can now cross the River Tweed on the 17th century bridge for the first time since October, ahead of the previous scheduled opening in July.

The opening date was brought forward after recent good weather enabled an improved rate of progress to be achieved - while the council was also aware of the concerns of local traders as the peak summer season gets nearer.

Cllr Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North on Northumberland County Council, said: “It is good news that Berwick Old Bridge is now open after extensive work.

Berwick Old Bridge had been closed for nine months.

“Significant investment has been put into this important heritage restoration to secure its future. There are still some further phases of work and speed restrictions of 15mph will be in place for safety reasons in the short term.”

Cllr Georgina Hill, Berwick East, added: “This has, evidently, been a really important project for the town - to make the Old Bridge safe.

“We have all missed crossing it so today is a good day”.

There will still be a need for a further short temporary closure for pedestrians and traffic towards the end of July, to allow for the application of a high quality ‘Rocbinda’ surface treatment on the concrete footways to provide a hard wearing and durable finish with a superior visual appearance.

This closure will be for five days, from 8am to 4pm each day, with the bridge opened again each evening.

Teams have been working since last autumn on a £900,000 project to waterproof the bridge deck, relay the road surface and footways, repair the masonry parapets and install new LED Lighting. This phase of work has been crucial in waterproofing the bridge to prevent water ingress and further deterioration.

This work has followed £250,000 funding already invested in its repair over the past two years.

The iconic 15-arch structure was built between 1611 and 1634 by James Burrell out of red sandstone. The bridge was almost complete in 1621, but severe flooding caused damage which put back its completion by several years.

It is a listed Grade 1 structure and of historic importance, and its restoration has required scheduled ancient monument consent from Historic England.

Further phases of refurbishment works are being planned over the next three years, with the first phase starting later this year. These final phases of work will target improvements to the masonry on the arches, piers, cutwaters and abutments to ensure the whole structure is fully refurbished to benefit current and future generations.

Cllr John Riddle, cabinet member for local services, said: “I’m delighted this key crossing is now open once again and want to thank traders and residents on both sides of the river for their patience and understanding while the work was done.

“Working on bridges is never straightforward and restoring a key structure of such historical importance brought added challenges.

“Thankfully our team have been able to make rapid progress on this essential work meaning we could open it to vehicles earlier than envisaged.”

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