Students gain first-hand experience of heritage engineering

Encouraging the civil engineers of the future was the order of the day when a group of students were given a tour of Rochester Bridge.

The students, who are all on a summer placement at Hewson Consulting Engineers, visited the site to find out more about the unique challenges of owning and maintaining a set of three tidal river crossings, with one of them Grade II-listed.

Kirsten Morris, Associate Director of Hewson, said: “Real-world experience is vital for new civil engineers because it offers an opportunity to see and understand the principles learned in the lecture theatre. A structure such as Rochester Bridge is particularly important because it demonstrates the challenges of balancing old with new, helping students to grasp the many and varied complications and opportunities of their chosen career.”

Hewson is providing technical support for the maintenance of Rochester Bridge and before arriving on site the students received a briefing about the type of work being carried out.

The visit included an introduction to the more than 600-year history of the Rochester Bridge Trust, the charity responsible for providing passage over, under or across the River Medway at Rochester at no cost to the public. This helped the students to understand the long-term significance of the site, as well as learning about the construction history of the different bridges and the challenges of sympathetically using modern engineering techniques on a heritage structure.

They also learned about the asset management requirements, such as inspections and remedial works, before taking a tour of the bridges and seeing some of the day-to-day maintenance activities in action.

James Booth, Bridge Manager for the Trust, added: “It was a pleasure to welcome this group of students to Rochester Bridge. Their enthusiasm for engineering was clear to see and I particularly enjoyed discussing some of our technical challenges with them.”

The group included a mix of civil engineering students from first year to graduate.

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