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Riverbed Survey Shows Medieval Bridge

The Rochester Bridge Trust has just received the report of a riverbed survey carried out last autumn in the Medway around Rochester Bridge.

The survey was conducted by the Hydrographic Service of the Port of London Authority (PLA) and was commissioned by the Trust to check riverbed conditions around the bridge piers as part of its ongoing programme of technical maintenance of Rochester Bridge. The Trust decided to extend the survey upstream to look for remains of the medieval bridge.

The medieval stone bridge, which had crossed the river for almost 500 years, was blown up by the Royal Engineers in 1857, after the new Victorian bridge was opened for use. However, the remains of the medieval bridge below the surface of the riverbed can still be clearly seen in the survey results

The survey shows the positions of the channel through the large central arch, the five smaller arches on the Rochester side, and the three arches on the Strood side. Near the Strood embankment the survey also shows the old bridge yard, or service depot for the bridge workmen, which had been excavated to widen the river and create a navigation channel for the swing span of the Victorian bridge.

The PLA did the hydrographical survey using their survey vessel Galloper mounted with a Reson.125 Multibeam Echosounder.

PLA said, “Excellent coverage and data density were achieved across the enire site, resulting in fine features and detail to be revealed. The foundations of the medieval bridge are clearly to be seen, as well as the old central access channel.”

Mott MacDonald, the Rochester Bridge Trust’s inetrnationally known engineering advisors, said, “The conclusions confirm that there are no serious threats to the bridge piers in terms of river scour.”

Information Notes:

The Rochester Bridge Trust is a charitable trust that exists to maintain the bridges and serve the local people of Medway. The Rochester Bridge Trust has served the people of Kent for centuries by providing crossings over the River Medway and more recently by also making charitable and educational grants. Regulated by the Charity Commission, the Trust must use its income “for the passage over, under, or across the River Medway,” for the “maintenance of the banks and channels of the River Medway” and for “other charitable purposes primarily in the County of Kent.”

The Trust’s wardens, who are not paid, include members of all three local Councils in the area to ensure fair representation. Since 1999 a new Charity Commission scheme has provided for twelve wardens and assistants: three nominated by the Medway Council, two by the Kent County Council, one by the Maidstone Borough Council, and six assistants drawn from the local community and appointed by the Trust.

For further information contact:

Mrs. Sue Threader, Bridge Clerk, The Rochester Bridge Trust
Graham Madan, Mott Macdonald Limited

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