Construction information is available at the bottom of this page

History of the Bridge

The Bridge c. 1922
The Bridge c. 1922

A Grade II* listed structure, Victoria Bridge spans the River Avon connecting the Upper and Lower Bristol Roads, through the Bath Western Riverside development, making up part of the Bristol/Bath cycle network.

The Bridge was built in 1836 as the prototype demonstration of James Dredge’s patented taper chain principle. Over 50 further bridges were built throughout Britain, Ireland, India and Jamaica, using the same principle and Victoria Bridge is the eldest of a small number of the survivors.

Project History

In 2010, the Bridge was closed to the public amid concerns about the Bridge’s condition and consequent strength and stability. In 2011 the Council formalised a project and appointed a project team, including a team of engineers and specialists in their field, to develop a permanent solution to enable the bridge to be reopened.

Monitoring undertaken in Autumn 2011 revealed the condition of the bridge to be rapidly and unpredictably deteriorating and a decision was taken to close the River and towpath beneath, before bringing forward the installation of a temporary truss, as an emergency solution to stabilise the bridge. The truss installation was completed in December 2011 which, following the subsequent addition of access ramps, ensured pedestrians were able to cross the River via an elevated walkway through a truss. The truss acts as a large ‘hanger’ to support the main span of the historic structure and will also serve as a working platform for the forthcoming refurbishment works.

In June 2012 the Council Cabinet gave funding approval for the permanent refurbishment of the Bridge. The solution has been developed in close consultation with English Heritage and seeks to achieve an appropriate balance between heritage, engineering and maintenance constraints. It involves dismantling and reconstructing the metal superstructure using the majority of the original ironwork, which will be refurbished, and some newly fabricated steel components which will help give the Bridge the required strength for modern use. The original Bath stone towers will be cleaned and conserved and some new foundations will be built to support the Bridge’s north and south backspans.

The Council held an Exhibition in spring 2013 at the Museum of Bath at Work, which provided an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history of the Bridge and its designer, James Dredge, and comment on proposals for the refurbishment. Following this an application for listed building consent for the refurbishment proposals was submitted to the Council and work began to find a suitably qualified contractor to undertake the refurbishment work.

In August 2013 listed building consent was granted.

When completed the bridge will look similar to its original appearance in Victorian times. Historical research has identified that for the majority of its past the ironwork of the bridge was painted a dark green. This colour will be used for the refurbished bridge in response to its past. The refurbished bridge will also re-establish the permanent link for cyclists and pedestrians between the Upper and Lower Bristol Roads, through Bath Western Riverside, and with the towpath beneath while restoring one of the City’s most important pieces of heritage infrastructure. 

Installation of the temporary truss, December 2011Installation of the temporary truss, December 2011

Project Construction

The refurbishment works are due to commence in late winter 2014 and will be delivered by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd, (BBCEL) working on behalf of the Council. The work will be delivered using a phased approach as follows:

  • Bridge dismantling                                              Winter to Spring 2014
  • Foundations/tower stone conservation              Spring to Summer 2014
  • Bridge erection                                                    Summer to Autumn 2014
  • Truss removal and completion                            Winter 2014

The methodology for undertaking the work has been developed to minimise impact on use of the River, Victoria Bridge Road, (including the crossing through the Bridge) and on the towpath beneath. Every effort will be made by BBCEL to minimise noise and disruption during operations.

To ensure the work can be carried out in a safe manner, the steps adjacent to the Bridge’s north tower will remain closed throughout the works. Additionally a series of short, (up to 30 minute) restrictions to River use and closures of the towpath and route across the Bridge will be necessary.

A more significant closure of the route across the bridge and the towpath will be required to permanently remove the truss, once the refurbishment works have been completed. This closure is likely to last for a fortnight during Winter 2014.

Construction updates will be provided on this page as well as the following communication channels:

  • Council Connect: 01225 39 40 41
  • On site:  BBCEL Project Manager on site and project information boards with contact details
  • Email: major_projects@bathnes.gov.uk
  • Follow on Twitter for news of any bridge Closures: @_VictoriaBridge (or scroll up to see our live feed of the Twitter page)

Timings for forthcoming closures will be communicated using sign boards at either end of the Bridge and via the above Twitter page.

The Bridge and Future Bath Riverside Public RealmThe Bridge and Future Bath Riverside Public Realm

 

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