Second bridge roll-out attempt May 5 & 6?

Second bridge roll-out attempt May 5 & 6?


Looks like it won’t be until after May Day before contractors have another go at rolling out the new single-span bridge that has been designed and constructed to replace the old Destructor across the River Avon.

This new connection between the on-going Crest Nicholson residential development at Bath Riverside and the rest of the city hit a technical hitch and was pulled back shortly after what was hoped would have been a triumphant launch on Monday evening last – April 18th.

The structure ran out of alignment and had to be retracted before it got stuck with no hope of a proper connection with the opposite bank.

Now it seems they will try again over May 5 & 6 – according to information Bath Newseum has been given.

Here’s Monday’s report – before things started to go wrong!

After months and months of preparation the newly-constructed  and contemporary designed single-span bridge – destined to replace the old Destructor – was ready for launching across the River Avon – down on the Bath Riverside development site.


The ‘red nose’ device fitted to the front of the new bridge which will guide it across the river.

Where once stood gas holders – in the middle of what was a bustling industrial bankside – Crest Nicholson have been busy creating a whole new residential community.

One which will need new links with the city that surrounds it and one that will help regenerate this brown field site.


An image of the new ‘Destructor’ bridge in place!

It should have been a joyous occasion. The new ‘Destructor’ – prefabricated in Italy out of Macedonian steel – had been put together on the Bath riverbank where welders have laboured in all manner of bad weather – to get the structure ready for its roll-out across the Avon.


The individually powered buggy device being used to push the bridge out across the river.

However, all did not go according to a very well laid out plan – as we will find out shortly.

The site is restricted on the Upper Bristol Road side and there would not be room to have cranes on either side just lifting the structure into place.


Part of the single-arched prefabricated bridge

So a system was worked out to gently push the assembled bridge across the river. An operation planned to take days to achieve and then weeks to secure the new ‘Destructor bridge’ into place.

As we waited for the green light – to begin the operation – we heard from Ian Firth who is Chief Operating Officer for Flint Neill – the company who designed the new bridge.

Shortly afterwards the operation came to a halt. When l returned early this morning- Tuesday, April 19th – l heard there had been a problem with keeping the bridge on the correct alignment.

They had decided to stop before reaching the point of no return where the bridge might have been literally between ‘the devil and the deep blue sea’. Unable to pull back and unable to dock correctly with its mountings on the other side of the river.

Crest Nicholson Regeneration have today ( Thursday, April 21st) issued the following statement:

“Moving the new 400 tonne Destructor Bridge into place involves pushing the

bridge at a controlled rate over the river with specialist equipment. Such

an operation requires a great degree of accuracy. On Monday during the

initial phase of the launch the bridge started to move very slightly off the

required precise alignment by a matter of millimetres. This deviation was

unexpected and therefore Britannia Construction moved the bridge back into

its initial position to allow them to address the issue to ensure the bridge

can be placed accurately and safely across the river.”

 The river and the recycling centre are open again until work on moving the bridge starts up once more. When that will be we still do not know.

In the meantime there must be an awful lot of disappointment amongst a crack team of designers and bridge builders for whom this was going to be a crowning moment. Let’s hope they don’t have too long to wait.


The old Destructor bridge

Elsewhere,  there’s much talk about a new name for the bridge. B&NES are considering a competition but l am noticing everyone talking about this being the new ‘Destructor bridge’. Why not! What do you all think?



New bridge slide-out starts today!!

New bridge slide-out starts today!!

The new prefabricated crossing – to replace the old Destructor bridge across the River Avon at Bath’s Western Riverside – is due to be moved into place between Monday 18th April and Wednesday 20th April 2016 (inclusive).


Looking across from the Upper Bristol Road side towards the new and partially constructed bridge at Western Riverside.

As part of the regeneration of Bath Riverside, the new bridge has – according to the Bath Riverside Community Facebook page – ‘been designed to accommodate cycles, pedestrians, buses and vehicles for Bath Riverside residents.’

This work will necessitate the temporary closure of the river and towpath as well as Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Recycling Centre on Upper Bristol Road. The Centre will be closed on Tuesday 19th April and Wednesday the 20th.

The Council’s other Recycling Centres in Radstock and Keynsham will be open as usual during these two days should you wish to use them. Visit the Bath and North East Somerset Council website for more details including opening times.


Another look across the River Avon towards the new bridge on the Crest Nicholson development site.

During the works, the National Cycle Network (NCN4 route) has been closed when necessary along the River Avon towpath between Windsor Bridge and Victoria Bridge.

During the work to move the new bridge into place the towpath will remain closed. A clearly signed diversion is in place directing users via Upper Bristol Road. It is anticipated the towpath will be reopened to the public in early May 2016.

Regular updates will be posted on Twitter @destructorbrdg/@bwrnews and


Looking down river towards the bend which will once more be bridged early next week!

The River Avon will be closed to all river traffic between Bath Bottom Lock and Weston Lock during the following times:

5pm on Monday 18th April until 8am on Tuesday 19th April
5pm on Tuesday 19th April until 8am on Wednesday 20th April
5pm on Wednesday 20th April until 8am on Thursday 21st April

destructor replacement bridge

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

You can get more detailed information via

Catch up with the story so far – and with footage of the taking down of the old Destructor Bridge – via

And now footage – in a couple of specially shot episodes by Alastair Rzeznicki  of Sunflower – of the new bridge being almost completely constructed before it is rolled out across the river!

Old bottles and a new bridge.

Old bottles and a new bridge.

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

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

Only months after the River Avon gave up some of its murky secrets – in a flood relief dredge that discovered stolen cars, countless bikes and scores of supermarket trolleys – they’ve been uncovering a little of the city’s commercial and industrial past on the river bank.

It’s where Britannia Construction are working on

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

putting in the footings for a new single-arch bridge that will open up a much more user-friendly north-south river crossing for cyclists and pedestrians and of course link into the Western Riverside residential development currently being built by Crest Nicholson.

Some of the bottles on display!

Some of the bottles on display!

It was the developers who invited some of us over to take a look at some of the ‘finds’ uncovered while those bridge foundations were being dug.

Bottles and ceramic pots that would have carried everything from tonic water to cosmetics with a few nasties like disinfectant and embrocation thrown in.

The old bridge, of course, was a route into the Destructor Incinerator Plant where much of Bath’s rubbish was burned. Bottles and pots may have been lost along the way.

Patrick Hutton and Jim Warren looking through the collection with Project Manager Kevin Sanderson-Duckett. All being filmed by Alastair Rzeznick.

Patrick Hutton and Jim Warren looking through the collection with Project Manager Kevin Sanderson-Duckett. All being filmed by Alastair Rzeznicki.

There to take a pick through one boxful of goodies were two local independent councillors representing Westmoreland Ward – June Player and Colin Blackburn – and from the web-based Bath Heritage Watchdog – – Patrick Hutton and Jim Warren.

All of this being filmed by Alastair Rzeznicki of the Bath-based Sunflower Creative Agency – – who are providing a video diary of the whole riverside development for Crest Nicholson.

On hand to tell the Virtual Museum more was the Project Manager for Britannia Construction – Kevin Sanderson-Duckett.

Bridge works!

Bridge works!

Things continue to go well as far as making ready the space ‘vacated’ by the old Destructor Bridge for a new cycle and pedestrian carrying link across the River Avon to Crest Nicholson’s Western Riverside residential development.

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

The new bridge that will replace the old Destructor!

The new bridge – due to be open by the summer of 2016 – will be a steel, single-arched bridge carrying two-way traffic.

It will have a broad footpath on one side and a shared cycle and pedestrian path on the other. It will be capable of taking buses too.

The Virtual Museum hopes to find out more early next week but in the meantime has been sent a video presentation which gives some idea of the work in progress and includes some evidence of former activities on the site.


The video is the work of a Bath-based creative agency called the Sunflower Newsroom – – who have kindly sent me another couple of video pieces which may be of interest. The first involves the very complicated dismantling of the old Destructor Bridge. The second deals were preparing the two river banks to take the foundations on which the new bridge will rest. Hope you enjoy them.“>http://“>http://

Documenting the old Destructor.

Documenting the old Destructor.

The old Destructor Bridge.

The old Destructor Bridge.

People using the towpath on the Upper Bristol Road side of the River Avon and where it passed under the old Destructor Bridge should be warned that access will be lost from September 21st.

That’s when contractors get down to the serious business of excavating to provide bank supports for the new pedestrian and cycle bridge that is going to be strung across the River Avon at this point .

Crest Nicholson – who are developing the Western Riverside – called in local production company Sunflower Film and Creative Agency Limited to produce two films – available on YouTube – which document both the dismantling of the old Destructor Bridge and site preparations for the construction of a new pedestrian and cyclist replacement.

Do follow the links below for Parts 1 & 2.

My thanks to Crest Nicholson and Sunflower for this. Find out more about the local production company on

Date with demolition

Date with demolition

The 'doomed' Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

The ‘doomed’ Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

So now we know. The old Destructor Bridge, which crosses the River Avon in Bath, near the old city gas works, is due to be taken down between October and February.

It will be replaced by a new two-way crossing – with pedestrian and cycle access – as part of the development of the Western Riverside. Temporary steel piers will have to be put up in the river-bed to allow the old bridge to be removed and replaced.

Developers Crest Nicholson Operations Limited has just been given permission by B&NES to update its planning permission to demolish the bridge.

Seems the ‘unlisted’ Destructor Bridge cannot be economically strengthened, refurbished or widened to fulfill the need for a vehicle lane in each direction – plus improved access for pedestrians and cyclists.

How the new 'coat-hanger' bridge will look.

How the new ‘coat-hanger’ bridge will look.

The old iron truss bridge dates back to the 1870’s and was originally an integral part of the Midland Railway – and installed to provide road access to the Bath terminus at Green Park Station. It was sold in 1905, when it was deemed unsuitable for Midland Railway purposes, and moved to Midland Road.

It was named the ‘Destructor bridge’ as it then joined the city’s recycling yard to a giant incinerator situated across the river. The incinerator was known as a ‘Destructor’ thereby providing the bridge’s new title.

A wonderful three-dimensional model  – on display in an exhibition at the Museum of Bath at Work  – showed the bridge in relation to the incinerator and the old gasworks behind.

The three-dimensional model showing the Destructor Works and gasworks beyond.

The three-dimensional model showing the Destructor Works and gasworks beyond.

The last standing gasometer, which still makes its substantial mark on the sky-line behind the old bridge, will also disappear soon as part of the riverside ‘regeneration’.

The new bridge – to quote the written information on the exhibition boards –  will be ‘understated and forms part of an overall environment that is balanced and well-mannered, respecting the natural landscape setting of the river corridor as well as the new architecture of the Bath Western Riverside development. This is achieved through the clean simple lines of the new design, it’s spare detailing and structural features like the steel plate hangers, whose proportions echo the deep window openings of the new Bath Western Riverside vernacular, itself a contemporary interpretation of the much-loved Georgian style.’


Bath toll-keeper’s daughter?

Bath toll-keeper’s daughter?

The housing development taking place at Western Riverside – around what was the city’s gas storage facilities – has prompted an exhibition which is currently on at the Museum of Bath at Work.

How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.

How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.

The old Victoria Suspension Bridge across the Avon is being renovated as part of a new, more accessible look for the river bank. Meanwhile the old Destructor Bridge – down river – is to be replaced with a two-way traffic bridge with pedestrian and cycle ways built in.

A view of the exhibition.

A view of the exhibition.

Both bridges are featured in the exhibition which is called ‘James Dredge and the Victoria Bridge – Past, Present and Future’ which is open Friday to Sunday from 10.30 am to 5pm until May 23rd.

James Dredge was the Bath brewer who went into bridge design and a new way of suspending them too. His Victoria Bridge was to make easier access from his nearby factory for delivering his beer but he turned his talents to bridge designs elsewhere. Amongst them was a non-too successful attempt at building Weston-super-Mare‘s first pier at Birnbeck Island. The causeway collapsed while under construction!

The 'doomed' Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

The ‘doomed’ Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

Judith Simpson is a Virtual Museum visitor who made contact to tell me she had seen the Bath at Work exhibition. ‘I have my great-grandmother’s birth certificate. Her name was Gertrude Augusta Stanley Scott. Her place of birth was given as the Toll Cottage, Victoria Bridge, November 17, 1875. Her dad, John Scott – who was a retired naval/army man – was the toll collector.’

Judith wanted to know whether there was any archive material ‘that might confirm if the ‘shed/chimney l saw on the old photos of the bridge are indeed the toll cottage?’

She has since been in touch with Stuart Burroughs who is the Curator at the Bath at Work Museum and was able to view the pictures in greater detail and , as there is an image of the toll house in which she was interested, the Museum has been able to help a bit.

I know Judith is keen to hear from anyone who might know more about the toll keeper and his cottage and the history of this bridge.