Black Bridge reopens

Posted on 23rd July 2010 | in Community

Black Bridge reopens

The Black Bridge over the River Coquet was severely damaged during the floods of September 2008 and was beyond economic repair. So money was secured from central government to replace it. A diving inspection revealed no evidence of river bed erosion.

Opening the new Black Bridge in Warkworth
George Todd, Vice Chairman of Northumberland County Council cuts the ribbon officially re-opening Warkworth’s Black Bridge

So work began in January 2010. When the damaged bridge deck was removed, it was found that it had been holding every thing together, so the County Council brought in engineers to make it secure and they built a temporary frame to hold things in place. Alas, the bridge had not finished revealing its problems; the south bank beneath the old concrete support was falling away so this was replaced, sheet piles were fitted to secure the bank.

By April it was thought that the end was in sight. The timber trestle walkway was replaced with a much shorter ramp so there will be no access to the bridge during a flood and the river banks were reinstated to the Environment Agency’s guidelines.
When a final diving inspection was carried out and it was plain that the second support had suffered the same fate as the first ,so it was protected with rock armour to diffuse the force of high flows.

Councillor Jeff Watson and the County Council’s Structures team worked together throughout the scheme to keep residents informed of progress. A formal ceremony was conducted on 11th June to declare the bridge open. It was attended by representatives of Warkworth and Acklington Parish Councils, the County Council’s Structures team, Revd Janet Brearley, who blessed the bridge, and children from Warkworth First School, who scattered rose petals into the water from the bridge.

Also present was Mrs. Mary Dixon, who for many years had lived in the cottage on the road to the bridge. Although now having to use a zimmer frame she valiantly negotiated the very steep path from Watershaugh Road to the bridge.

She said, “It is a privilege to be asked along to the ceremony.” The children wanted to know why it was called the Black Bridge; Mary believes it was because the original bridge was made of black wood. It was built in 1849 at a cost of £7.12s. I suspect this new bridge cost considerably more.

In his speech Councillor Jeff Watson, on behalf of the County Council, thanked all the parties involved including Northumberland Estates, Coquet Moor Caravan Park and the residents of Watershaugh Road for their co-operation during the work. The ribbon was cut by George Todd Vice-chairman of the County Council. The party then retired for refreshments in the Memorial Hall.

Vivienne Dalgliesh

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