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Public transport to use Yarmouth bridge

PUBLISHED: 09:29 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:49 03 July 2010

Plans to restore Great Yarmouth's grade two-listed Vauxhall Bridge for use by buses and taxis as well as pedestrians will be unveiled today.

Norfolk County Council has been carrying out a feasibility study on five possible options for the bridge, regarded as an important gateway to the town, ranging from demolition and replacement by a footbridge to full restoration.

Plans to restore Great Yarmouth's grade two-listed Vauxhall Bridge for use by buses and taxis as well as pedestrians will be unveiled today.

Norfolk County Council has been carrying out a feasibility study on five possible options for the bridge, regarded as an important gateway to the town, ranging from demolition and replacement by a footbridge to full restoration.

It is understood that the council's project engineer, David Wardale, has decided that refurbishing the structure - presently only used by pedestrians - as a public transport link connecting the station to the town centre should be the preferred option.

This afternoon, he will present the plans to the local panel for the National Lottery's Fair Share Trust, which has earmarked £300,000 for work on the bridge.

Mr Wardale will also be discussing possible ways of sourcing the additional funds needed for a project likely to run to a sizeable seven-figure sum.

News of the progress has heartened campaigners, led by local restaurateur Miriam Kikis, who said it would be a “crime to 100 years of craftsmanship to demolish the bridge”.

She first voiced her fears in October that bureaucratic delays could lead to the Lottery funding being lost.

Meanwhile, her campaign has been further bolstered by new claims about the bridge's historical importance.

Entering the debate, historian Peter Cross-Rudkin, who is currently writing a book about the civil engineering heritage of East Anglia, described it as being a “monument of the first rank”.

Mr Cross-Rudkin said there were few such Fairbairn-type box girder bridges remaining, most having been demolished as railway loadings increased or lines closed.

However, he said its real historical importance stemmed from the fact it had been strengthened in the 1880s by adding arched ribs that rise above the box girders and vertical iron rods to support the girders from the arches.

He said: “It is a very rare example of a bridge that was strengthened in the 19th century by altering its structural form. The only other example in East Anglia that I am aware of, over the River Ouse at Earith, has been demolished.

“The design and erection of the new structure around the old one would have been very innovative and challenging.

“­ It was still thought worthy of mention in correspondence published in the minutes of proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 20 years later.”

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