Monday, January 02, 2012

Dangerous river bridge still barrier to boats on the K&A Canal

The New Year begins with doubts about when the Kennet & Avon Canal might re-open as a 'through navigation'.  The canal's first year as a 'Cruiseway' has been dogged with stoppages and there is no forecast of when Victoria Bridge in Bath will be safe enough to allow boats to travel under it again.
Victoria Bridge over the River Avon in Bath: Picture by Bob Naylor©
Webbing straps in place
Picture by Bob Naylor©
Webbing straps have been put in place to stabilise the bridge until repairs can be done but pedestrians and cyclists cannot cross the bridge, boats cannot pass under it and now the towpath, which forms part of the National Cycle Route 4, is also closed — leaving walkers and cyclists to find alternative routes.

Bath and North East Somerset Council have said that they are looking into the possibility of a £400,000 temporary repair 'by the summer' with hopes of a full restoration by 2013.

The historic Victoria Bridge has been portrayed as the centrepiece of the controversial 2,000-home Bath Riverside development and local people are expressing dismay that the work has started on the houses but the bridge repair was not part of the agreement between Crest Nicholson and B&NES for the first phase of the project.

Victoria Bridge was built in 1836 and it is a Grade 2 listed structure. It is an example of the work of Bath brewer and engineer, James Dredge and like the many other bridges he designed it is a radical alternative to the established suspension bridge design.

Cyclists and pedestrians banned from the towpath in Bath: Picture by Bob Naylor©

Read more about James Dredge bridges at: Dredge suspension Bridges

You can find an analysis of Victoria Bridge in a paper presented at the University of Bath Bridge Engineering Conference in April 2009 at: RA Griffiths paper 

Or go to Derrick Hunt's website dedicated to Dredge's work: Derrick Hunt—Dredge

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