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Knight Architects wins approval to replace bridge destroyed in 2015 Lake District floods


Knight Architects has won approval to build a permanent, replacement bridge over the River Eamont in the village of Pooley Bridge in the Lake District 

The 40m-long road and pedestrian crossing will stand at the same point as the original 1764 Grade II-listed stone arch bridge, which was destroyed by floods following Storm Desmond in December 2015. 

A temporary bridge has been in place for the past three years.

Since being appointed to the project in summer 2017, the practice has worked with the local community, and stakeholders including The Prince’s Foundation and the Environment Agency to develop a ’contemporary design which respects the sensitive setting and robustly fulfils new design criteria for flooding’.

According to the High Wycombe-based bridge specialists, the design is a ’modern application of a classical form’ and ’well suited to the picturesque tourist destination, with a single flat arch formed in stainless steel supporting twin pedestrian walkways and the single carriageway road’.

The crossing, described by Knight Architects as a ’critical link’ for residents and tourists, features a concrete infill within the arch to ’provide additional strength and stiffness while the open spandrels maximise transparency along the river’

The ‘flagship’ project is being funded by Cumbria County Council as part of its £120 million Infrastructure Recovery Programme, which has so far delivered more than 1,200 schemes following the devastation caused by the 2015 storm.

The project was tendered in early 2018 and main contractor Eric Wright Group was appointed from Cumbria County Council’s civils framework under a design and build contract.

The detailed design was developed by Eric Wright Group together with Knight Architects and submitted to the Lake District National Park Authority in February 2019.

Construction work is planned to start immediately and is expected to complete in Easter 2020.

Pooley Bridge (completed 1764 and destroyed in December 2015)

Pooley Bridge (completed 1764 and destroyed in December 2015)

Source: Wikimedia Commons (geograph 3914968)

Pooley Bridge (completed 1764 and destroyed in December 2015)

Project data

Location River Eamont at Pooley Bridge in the Lake District
Type of project Highway and pedestrian bridge
Client Cumbria County Council
Architect Knight Architects
Planning consultant Steven Abbot Associates
Structural engineer GHD
Main contractor Eric Wright Group
Funding (public) Cumbria County Council Infrastructure Recovery Programme
Tender date First quarter 2018
Start on site date May 2019
Completion date Easter 2020
Contract duration 24 months
Area 40m span
Form of contract Two-stage Design and Build
Total cost Undisclosed

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0c model01 mod w


Readers' comments (2)

  • I think a faithful and meticulous recreation of the original would be more fitting in a World Heritage Site. The shock of the new is too jarring and distressing within the context of the crucible of the English romantic movement.

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  • I thought that - unlike a high arched structure (e.g., the ancient bridge at Mostar) - the original structure at Pooley Bridge, with piers in the river, obstructed the flood of water to such an extent that it started to act like a dam, and that was its undoing.
    Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the pier foundations were undercut (or maybe there was a combination of factors) but you've highlighted a dilemma that might be repeated more frequently, and 'the shock of the new' is something that we'll have to come to terms with, if it's just impossible to rebuild 'as was'..

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