Bath’s hidden dumping ground reveals some of its secrets.

There's a bike coming up in the underwater grab!

There’s a bike coming up in this underwater grab! Click on images to enlarge.

Cars, bikes and scores of supermarket trolleys are surfacing again from the  depths of the River Avon during a massive clean-up operation being undertaken by the Environment Agency between Victoria Bridge and the old Destructor.

The pontoon-mounted crane in action by the Victoria Bridge.

The pontoon-mounted crane in action by the Victoria Bridge.

They are spending £20,000 conducting the first dredging operation along this stretch for 20 years and say the work will reduce the flooding risk to 238 properties in the city centre caused by such abandoned objects.

Obstacles like these increase the flood risk by disrupting flows and causing a hazard to navigation.

The Virtual Museum was on hand to watch part of the operation.

It starts with divers going down to explore the river bed and locate large objects.

The sites are then marked with plastic bottle floats and the crane – mounted on a moveable pontoon – begins the dredging operation.

A pile of river-dumped debris on the pontoon.

A pile of river-dumped debris on the pontoon.

It’s quite weird to see salvaged cars and other debris on the riverbank where Crest is undertaking a massive redevelopment on what is now known as Western Riverside.

A weird sight. Recovered vehicle on the river bank in front of the housing development taking place.

A weird sight. Recovered vehicle on the river bank in front of the housing development taking place.

One vehicle – which still had its number plates – was reported to the police and confirmed as stolen.

The operation coincides with the removal of the old Destructor Bridge by the same contractor.

It is due to be replaced by a new bridge which will give improved access to and from the new residential site.

The towpath passing underneath it is due to be closed for six months from next week (April 20th) while the bridge is removed and the new one built.

The two decorative scrolls on one end of the Destructor Bridge have already been removed.

The two decorative scrolls on one end of the Destructor Bridge have already been removed.

There have been moves to preserve at least a decorative section of the Destructor and the two scroll-shaped end sections nearest the Upper Bristol Road – have already been taken off and stored nearby.

The Managing Director of Crest Nicholson, Debbie Aplin, has told the Virtual Museum that it is ‘our intention to use some of the bridge in our site-wide art.’

You can watch the crane in action below.