Context 139 - May 2015

14 C O N T E X T 1 3 9 : M A Y 2 0 1 5 RICHARD BAISTER Dredge’s Victoria Bridge The 1836 Victoria Bridge in Bath has been dismantled, refurbished and uprated to meet current design codes, with its original elements being retained wherever possible. Victoria Bridge in Bath is a Grade II* listed structure which was originally designed and constructed in 1836 by a local entrepreneur James Dredge to link the lower and upper Bristol Roads over the River Avon.The bridge is thought to be the first of some 50 bridges of its type designed by Dredge and constructed in the UK, India and Jamaica. Only a small number of these bridges survive as many have collapsed and others have been demolished over the past 180 years. The bridge, originally constructed as a toll bridge for vehicular traffic, has a clear span of 42.5m and an overall width of 6m. Since a major refurbishment in 1946/47 it has only been used by pedestrian traffic. The bridge was closed to the public by Bath and North East Somerset Council in 2010 following one of its regular inspections where a number of cracked deck hangers were discovered. Subsequent inspections revealed that the bridge structure was further degrading, with new cracks and defects being noted on a regular basis. As a result of this and the risk of overall structural failure the towpath and river were also closed to the public in the autumn of 2011. Emergency temporary works were hastily installed to support the historic bridge structure, allowing the towpath and river to be re-opened to the public in January 2012. With the temporary support in place, the bridge structure was safeguarded. Proposals needed to be developed for the refurbishment or replacement of the bridge structure. Bath and North East Somerset Council appointed Temporary support provided by the internal Mabey bridge structure carried the weight of the original bridge. The completed, refurbished bridge (Photo: Jonathan Taylor) Capita Symonds tomanage theworks,withAECOM lead- ing the engineering design for the project. Consultation began with the planning authority, English Heritage, the Canal and River Trust, the Environment Agency and the residents of Bath to determine appropriate repair proposals. Retention and refurbishment of the original bridge structure was seen by all stakeholders as the most Temporary support provided by the internal Mabey bridge structure carried the weight of the original bridge.