Heritage case study: Bedford Street Bridge, Caldon Canal
IWA has many examples of areas where we've campaigned for the protection of a heritage asset and saved the face of the waterways. Here is a recent success story from IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch.
The original Bedford Street Bridge (No 2) on the Caldon Canal had suffered years of neglect and vandalism and had become dangerous, resulting in it being closed to pedestrians.
Photo: The original bridge had been cast in the local ironworks and was neglected. Photo by Roger Kidd.
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch discovered that the original bridge had been cast in the ironworks in nearby Hanley. This local connection was important to both waterways heritage and the industrial history of the area.
In 2014 (before it was closed), repair of the bridge had been included in a City Council funded project. Canal & River Trust initially said it would look to fund a like-for-like replacement but when this proved too expensive, came up with another suggestion. The modern, generic-looking bridge design it put forward looked like it belonged in a European city. If used as a replacement, the history and local connection of the original bridge would be lost.
Photo: The replacement bridge design as proposed by CRT
IWA North Staffordshire & South Cheshire Branch, led by Steve Wood, met with the project managers and advised that IWA would have to oppose such a proposal. IWA had been involved in the conservation area review in 2012, where the local importance of the bridge had been specifically discussed and agreed.
You might look at Bedford Street Bridge and think that it isn't the prettiest, and, in fact, you might prefer the look of the proposed modern bridge, but the historical value of this structure, in this location, with its local links to Hanley and the now non-existent ironworks, is more important than the look of the bridge itself. After IWA voiced its concerns and opposed the proposal, CRT managed to find the additional funding and the bridge has now been restored to look just like the original. The story remains in place for future generations.
It is this that we will be fighting for in our Value of Waterways Heritage campaign. We need your help to make this a success. Do you know of any bridges that are in a similar situation to the Bedford Street Bridge on the Caldon Canal? Do you know of any heritage that is being threatened? We want to hear from you.
Photo top: The restored bridge is sympathetic to the heritage of the area. Photo by Roger Kidd.
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