Lydbrook Black Bridge

The Wye Valley AONB Unit is working with Gloucestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council and the Black Bridge Steering Group to find a viable solution to reopen the former Lydbrook railway bridge and the Wye Valley Walk. The plan is to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a Heritage Grant with the overall aim to conserve and enhance the bridge for generations to come while celebrating the personal & community connections to its heritage.

This will be a 2 stage HLF application. The first round application, to be submitted in February 2018, will justify the project proposals and provide estimated costs. If this is successful a Development Phase will commence in summer 2018 to refine and finalise all the elements of the project and secure firm quotes and commitments for all the work. These form the second round application to HLF (in early 2019?). If successfully approved, then the restoration work can commence in mid 2019.

The intention is to
• restore use of the former railway bridge as a pedestrian crossing point over the River Wye and
• revitalise community engagement with the bridge; researching, recording and celebrating the community and industrial heritage connected with the bridge and the local railways, use of river and the symbiotic relationship between Lydbrook and Welsh Bicknor.

Lydbrook Bridge, also known as Stowfield Viaduct or The Black Bridge, spans the river between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. The importance of the viaduct to the community cannot be overestimated with the bridge a strategic link for the Wye Valley Walk and the YHA Wye Valley Hostel at Welsh Bicknor. There is a 6 mile road route separating the two sides of the bridge. The footpath is a designated Public Right of Way on the Herefordshire half of the Bridge but not for the Gloucestershire part. Under mutual agreement Gloucestershire County Council have responsibility for maintenance of this bridge.

Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), had to close the walkway over Lydbrook Bridge in February 2016 due to safety issues with the structure. Herefordshire Council / Balfour Beatty implemented a Path Closure and Diversion for the Wye Valley Walk which crosses the bridge. On behalf of GCC, Amey commissioned a Principal Inspection Report for Lydbrook Bridge. The report covers visual and tactile inspection of the visible areas of the structure, using rope access and an Underwater Inspection. A Feasibility Study by GCC identifies a number of options including to repair the bridge structure sufficiently by inserting a Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP) deck to carry the footpath. These reports are available on GCC website http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-rights-of-way/major-projects/lydbrook-bridge/

For further information about the Lydbrook Black Bridge restoration project please contact Andrew Blake, Wye Valley AONB Manager and/or follow the ‘Wye Valley AONB’ and ‘Reopen Stowfield River Crossing’ Facebook pages

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