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).

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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.

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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 http://www.bathwesternriverside.co.uk

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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 http://www.bathwesternriverside.com/towpath-and-destructor-bridge-update/

Catch up with the story so far – and with footage of the taking down of the old Destructor Bridge – via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82VLckgTIZM

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 – www.bathheritagewatchdog.org – Patrick Hutton and Jim Warren.

All of this being filmed by Alastair Rzeznicki of the Bath-based Sunflower Creative Agency – sunflowernewsroom.com – 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.

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The video is the work of a Bath-based creative agency called the Sunflower Newsroom –www.sunflowernewsroom.com – 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.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/82VLckgTIZM“>http://

https://www.youtube.com/embed/L-5ygL97jXQ“>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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82VLckgTIZM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-5ygL97jXQ

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

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.

Goodbye to the old ‘Destructor’ and hello to a new Victoria Bridge.

Goodbye to the old ‘Destructor’ and hello to a new Victoria Bridge.

The 'doomed' Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

The ‘doomed’ Destructor Bridge across the River Avon.

Bath’s old Destructor Bridge – which links the Upper and Lower Bristol roads into the city – is due to close for demolition, as part of the Western Riverside. It is going to be replaced with a new structure big enough to take two-way traffic with a cycle-way and pedestrian access.

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

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

A new exhibition has opened at the Museum of Bath at Work – close to the Assembly Rooms – which features an illustration of that replacement bridge. For my money the new one – a new steel arch truss bridge – will soon have a nick-name of its own as it looks like a giant white coat-hanger.

This new exhibition, however,  is much more about the Victoria suspension bridge nearby and about the man who designed it – James Dredge – but let’s just finish talking about the Destructor Bridge first.

Seems this ‘unlisted’ structure 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.

The Destructor Bridge with the last remaining - and soon to be demolished - gasometer behind.

The Destructor Bridge with the last remaining – and soon to be demolished – gasometer behind.

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 at the Museum of Bath at Work shows 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.’

View of the exhibition at the Museum of Bath at Work.

View of the exhibition at the Museum of Bath at Work.

That’s quite a sales pitch and this is actually quite a detailed exhibition which celebrates the successes, and often the failures, of James Dredge  – the Bath brewer who built the nearby Victoria Bridge to carry beer from his brewery across the Avon without using a ferry or having to detour through the city centre.

This bridge – which is  150 feet in length and  cost £1,760 to erect – features Dredge’s unique ‘Taper principle’ which is based on using wrought-iron suspension chains rather than cables.  It apparently made a bridge cheaper and quicker to build.The cables are slung from Bath stone towers and the road deck is joined to the cables by iron rods which, unusually, are not vertical. The deck is made of wooden planks.

The Victoria Bridge under refurbishment.

The Victoria Bridge under refurbishment.

This one across the Avon went up in 1836 but seven years earlier Dredge was one of several civil engineers competing to build a new bridge a little further down river at Clifton in Bristol. A Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel got that job!

While Brunel turned also to building ships and railways,  James Dredge went on to design over 50 bridges and piers in his life – including a contract to link Birnbeck Island with the mainland at Weston-super-Mare.

He didn’t get very far before his  pier construction works were swept away in a storm in 1847. Dredge was accused of being incompetent and was sued for the £1,450 he had been given up front! He was declared bankrupt in 1849 and his claimants got back just £23 3s and 11d of their investment.

How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.

How the Victoria Bridge should look when work is finished.

It is good to know that his Victoria Bridge in Bath will be retained and refurbished. It was closed to users in 2010 because of safety concerns but now – after much uncertainty – an internal structure has been fitted to render it usable during restoration work which will hopefully soon have it back in working order.

Referring once more to the written accounts now featured on the highly-visual boards on display at the exhibition, it is interesting to read just how important the much-ignored river through the city has now become.

I quote: ‘The majority of Bath’s key future development sites share a relationship with the river. The re-integration of the riverscape will help to re-invigorate the role of the river, its bridges and adjoining buildings as spaces within the city’s public life.’

The 'regeneration' of the riverside.

The ‘regeneration’ of the riverside.

‘The River Avon, through the ages has been bridged and the chronology of bridge construction is played out through the structures that have existed on the river through the city. The regeneration of Bath Riverside will mark the next chapter in this story, replacing the Destructor Bridge with a new structure and contributing to the refurbishment of Victoria Bridge. As Bath Riverside progresses west, the removal of the Pipe Bridge and replacement with a pedestrian footbridge will open up new public realms and parks along the river.

Possible new bridges may also be added to extend this chronology into the future providing the city with a celebration of continued engineering, design and innovation.’

Another view of the exhibition.

Another view of the exhibition.

Wow. It’s impressive language but go judge for yourselves. The exhibition ‘James Dredge and the Victoria Bridge – Past, Present and Future‘ is on from March 1st to May 31st. It is open from 10.30 am until 4pm and admission is free!

In the meantime l am hoping that  a use could at least be found for the decorative ends of the old Destructor Bridge on the Upper Bristol Road side.

Using these in some way as a memorial to the old Destructor?

Using these in some way as a memorial to the old Destructor?

Some way of using them as a memorial to another  passing of what is left of Bath’s industrial age. This is an old bridge that has served a railway and a city well. The exhibition has a suggestion box and l would urge you to use it!

A press release on the subject has now arrived from B&NES and l will add it for you to consider.

Take part in history – comment on Victoria Bridge proposals

People are being invited by Bath & North East Somerset Council to view and comment upon the proposals for the refurbishment of Victoria Bridge and proposals for the replacement of the Destructor Bridge from 1st March – 24th March 2013.

The plans follow the Council approving its budget which approved funding that took the investment in Victoria Bridge to £3.4 million. They are being displayed as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Bath at Work on celebrated engineer and designer of the bridge, James Dredge.

Extensive research by the Council into the history of Victoria Bridge, including the life and work of James Dredge will present many historical illustrations of the bridge rarely seen at the Museum of Bath at Work, Julian Road alongside the designs. The research has helped shape the refurbishment which takes into account the heritage of the bridge.

Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib-Dem, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Transport, said, “The engineering expertise of the past is shaping the future refurbishment of this important bridge. Bath & North East Somerset Council has delved into history to support our aims of making the city more appealing for people on foot and who use bicycles.

“Victoria Bridge is a vital connection between communities on either side of the River Avon. It supports sustainable travel to Bath Riverside that in the coming years will support thousands of new homes and jobs for local people.

“The structure has a high heritage value which played a significant part in the story of the city’s industrial development and advanced bridge engineering through the Victorian era. The exhibition is a unique opportunity for people to explore history and have their say on these multi-million pound projects.”

Get involved – exhibition details

The Victoria Bridge Exhibition, including proposals for the replacement of Destructor Bridge with a two way traffic bridge with pedestrian and cycle ways is open Friday to Sunday only, 10.30am – 5pm. Anyone who cannot attend the exhibition can view the plans online at www.bathnes.gov.uk/victoriabridge

Although the opportunity to comment closes on 24th March, the exhibition continues until May 23rd – more details at www.bathatwork.org.uk