Historic Footbridge Returns to Forest of Dean
Dean Forest Railway are delighted that their beautiful Victorian (Grade ll Listed) original Severn & Wye Railway footbridge, has been re-installed at its original site at Lydney. The restoration ‘to its original form’ of St. Mary’s Footbridge was undertaken by bridge specialist Mabey, which manufactures and exports modular bridges around the world from its nearby factory near Lydney Harbour.
According to Historic England ‘This is a very complete survival, elegant and of great economy in engineering design’. The Listed Building Consent allowed the bridge, originally built as a massive kit of parts, to be dismantled and transported to a secure workshop for restoration, but even when dismantled the individual elements of the listed bridge remained listed. The footbridge was removed from and returned to site using the Dean Forest Railway’s own heritage 15-ton rail crane built by Joseph Booth & Bros of Rodley, Leeds.
Restoration included replacement of the deck section lower chords, eleven new cast iron stair risers, new deck plates, new finials on the lanterns and about 470 rivets! The bridge’s unsafe deterioration had led to it being closed as part of Lydney’s footpath network in 2007.
The DFR has renovated the footbridge for the benefit, appreciation and enjoyment of the local community, visitors and future generations. This well-supported restoration project was funded thanks to donations and funding from the Rural Development Programme for England – Rural Tourism Infrastructure Growth Programme, part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Michael Treacy, CEO, Mabey Bridge comments:
“We are very proud of the bridging products we manufacture here at Lydney, and our relationship with the local community is hugely important to us. We look forward to seeing the bridge open in March, so locals can appreciate and admire the Dean Forest Railway once again.”
Built by George Smith & Co., Sun Foundry, Glasgow in 1892, St Mary’s Footbridge was re-assembled on its original position during January 7-11th and will be open again before the start of Dean Forest Railway’s 2019 Running Season in March.
Restoration of the footbridge re-connects the footpaths between the 12th century St. Mary’s Church and Lydney Lake and offers a unique viewpoint of the Dean Forest Heritage Railway running below. The formal opening ceremony takes place on Saturday March 9th.