Pooley Bridge build reaches milestone

Contractor Eric Wright Group has lifted into place the £5m bridge to replace the 250-year old stone crossing that washed away during Storm Desmond in 2015.

The original bridge, built in 1764, was one of more than 700 bridges in Cumbria to be damaged by the storm that year. 

Once completed in July, the replacement bridge, designed by London-based Knight Architect, will reconnect the local community to the surrounding area by allowing cars to once again cross the River Eamont close to the northern point of Lake Ullswater. 

After the original bridge was destroyed, a temporary crossing was constructed allowing pedestrians and cars to cross the river.  

However, Eric Wright removed the temporary structure last autumn following the height of the Lake District’s tourist season, in preparation for the new bridge, and cars have been unable to cross the river since. 

The new bridge is a 320-tonne structure that was manufactured by Darwen-based WEC Group in three parts and then welded together in a car park close to the river. It is the first stainless steel road bridge in the UK. 

Pooley Bridge

The bridge is the first stainless steel road bridge in the UK

Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, said she was proud of the project. “It’s a privilege to be part of something that will stand the test of time and be a real legacy project, you don’t get the chance to do a lot of these. 

“We do a lot of fantastic projects as civil engineers but most of them don’t really get seen and appreciated by the public, but this is more of a visible landmark project for our business and the county.” 

Bourne said the project involved extensive consultation with the local community and other stakeholders on what they wanted from a crossing, and they were offered a like-for-like replacement of the previous bridge or a modern alternative. 

“The consensus from locals was that they were in favour of a futuristic look,” she told Place North West. 

“The previous, three-arch, bridge was prone to high water levels but this one has a resilience to flooding. There was an environmental as well as aesthetic consideration, and because it is the first stainless steel road bridge in the country it has that uniqueness that makes it [something] to look at. It lives up to the Pooley Bridge name.” 

While the public applauded the way the bridge looks, Bourne added, its design raised challenges for the project team. “It is such a slender design and [supposed] to blend in with the local environment and not be clunky or obtrusive, and that slender nature brought about challenges.

“We spent a considerable amount of time trying to stay true to the design while making it buildable and practical so there are a lot of hidden straighteners and stiffeners so it doesn’t flex when we lift it.” 

The project team also includes GHD, R Betts, Sarens, Eden Stonework, PBA Ecology, Waitings, and Bill Boley. 

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