To coincide with Heritage Open Days week, the Bridge Team launched its own event, opening hidden areas of the crossings that are used by tens of thousands of people every day.
A series of Hard Hat Tours took visitors over, under and inside the structures that comprise Rochester Bridge, introducing the heritage and engineering of the Old Bridge, the New Bridge and the Service Bridge.
The tours were offered free of charge but places were limited due to the difficulty of accessing certain areas, meaning no more than six people could take part at a time.
They were led by civil engineer and Bridge Programme Manager Kate Castle, who said: “All our visitors took a keen interest in the structures and clearly appreciated that they were being shown around by one of the engineers responsible for the bridges.
“It was great to see their enthusiasm and answer their questions. I can’t wait to show more people around another time.”
The tours were so popular that all 30 places were fully booked within hours of bookings opening, with more than 50 people joining the waiting list.
After the event, the tours received much positive feedback, including this comment from attendee Lee Given: “I thought I would write a few words to express my gratitude for the opportunity to see a behind the scenes look of the bridges.
“It was particularly good to have real engineers who actually look after the bridges on a day-to-day basis rather than a ‘trained’ guide. I find it so much more informative to be guided by people who know and work on the bridges in so much detail… Thanks once again for a great afternoon and I hope to see more tours from the trust in the future.”
Kate added: “This is the first time we’ve ever been able to invite members of the public behind the scenes at the bridges, so we were very pleased to see how popular the tours were. As a result, we’re already reviewing the possibility of hosting more tours when the weather improves in the spring – so keep an eye on the Forthcoming Events page of our website if you’d like to come along.”
Five tours took place during the second week of September, with each tour lasting approximately one hour.