Bridge Engineer’s Blog: Illuminating the Old Bridge for Christmas

Since its installation during the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project, the enhancement lighting on the Old Bridge has proved incredibly popular. Installed within the bowstring-shaped trusses, the multicoloured lights highlight the structure of the bridge while publicising themes and projects which promote the Trust’s values and activities and occasionally celebrate significant events.

One such significant event is the festive season which sees a rolling programme of lighting displays throughout December, culminating in a New Year’s Eve rainbow.

The role of being Santa’s Illumination Elf is allotted to Bridge Programme Manager Kate Castle, who has added it to her already extensive portfolio of bridge-related activities.

Drawing on her own creativity and inspiration from colleagues and acquaintances, she has devised and prepared four distinctive displays to run over the course of the month.

One was inspired – and largely programmed – by a recent work experience student; another has a decorated Christmas tree theme (green with twinkly lights); a third will be a cheerful mix of slowly-changing pinks, purples, yellows and white; while the last is an adaptation from previous years but with added sparkle for dynamic effect.

Kate said: “One of the things I love about my job is the diverse range of activities, from the engineering involved in maintaining a heritage structure to giving hard hat public tours and now having a bit of festive fun. I’m grateful to my colleagues for their help in coming up with the displays, and I hope the public get as much enjoyment from seeing the lights as I did in programming them.”

The lights, which are low-energy LEDs, are powered by renewable electricity – this is part of the Trust’s commitment to being Net Zero Carbon in its operations. To conserve energy, control electricity costs and reduce light-pollution, the enhancement lighting is only turned on at certain times of the year. For the same reasons, it is switched off at midnight unless there is a special reason to keep it on later into the night – as will be the case on New Year’s Eve.

More information about the Trust’s enhancement lighting programme, is available here.

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