An £800,000 project to repair and refurbish the cast iron balustrade and relay the footway over the 150-metre Rochester Old Bridge has been completed 10 weeks ahead of schedule.
The bridge engineer Mott MacDonald and Jackson Civil Engineering worked closely with the historic Rochester Bridge Trust, which for centuries has provided crossings over the River Medway at Rochester at no cost to the public.
The Trust planned for the project to respect the heritage of the bridge. The work included recasting and recoating the cast iron, which was originally made in 1851, and ensuring that the new footway paving included heritage-style polished granite within the paving slabs.
The project, managed for Jackson Civil Engineering by Colin Rowe , was expected to take 37 weeks and work started on March 29.
Scaffolding was erected on the upstream side of the bridge to enable the Victorian balustrade to be removed. Essential repairs were then completed on the main framework of the bridge.
Some sections of the balustrade and a number of post caps, which were in poor condition, were replaced with new iron castings. Once the repaired and new cast iron sections were reinstated, they were recoated in situ. Meanwhile, more than 1,700 new paving slabs were laid to cross the bridge for pedestrian use.
The new footway was formally opened to the public by Dr Anne Logan, the Rochester Bridge Trust Senior Warden.
Sue Threader, Bridge Clerk for Rochester Bridge Trust, said: “This was an exceptionally well managed project, and we are very grateful to Jackson Civil Engineering for their commitment to keeping disruption to a minimum throughout this major refurbishment.”
Graham Maden, Mott MacDonald project manager, was responsible for providing technical and asset management support as well as advising on health and safety issues throughout the programme of works. He said: “This was a complicated project, as the bridge is a Grade II listed structure. All work had to preserve the listing requirements, retaining as much of the existing structure as possible.”
1. The Rochester Bridge Trust was founded in 1399 and is the only surviving independent bridge trust that still serves its original purpose. The Trust owns and maintains the road and service bridges over the Medway at Rochester and has contributed to the cost of many other Medway crossings over the centuries. It makes charitable grants and supports other charitable and educational projects in Kent.
2. The Trust’s income derives from 14th and 15th century endowments, and assets are carefully managed to provide funds for bridge maintenance and future replacement as well as charitable activities. It provides its services entirely free to the public. The Trust receives no external funding and is regulated by the Charity Commission.