The brick bridge linking High Street with Bridge Street was designed by John Rennie, and built in 1799. For the first 100 years of its life it carried nothing heavier than horses and wagons. Through the 20th century and onwards, however, it had to support increasingly heavy vehicles.
The beautiful construction, with its many curves, has proved amazingly strong and robust. The bridge was strengthened in the early 2000s - a magnificent piece of work, totally invisible after the event!
Since the 1950s, however, there had been anxieties about the dangers of pedestrians crossing the bridge on the narrow pavements, and the risks of being hit by passing vehicles.
After many discussions, meetings and failed plans, a scheme was agreed in 2011 (see NWN article "Footbridge plan is finally approved"). Through the winter of 2011-12 a new pedestrian bridge was constructed, on the west side of the existing bridge, but totally independent of the brick bridge.
Ground works were completed by Christmas 2011, and the new bridge structure (fabricated in Huddersfield) was craned into position (using a 200-ton crane) on the night of 2/3 Mar 2012.
The projected cost of the Jubilee Footbridge (named to honour Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee) was £400,000.
The bridge was officially opened on the 2 June 2012 by Mrs. Mary Bayliss, the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire.
- Diamond Jubilee Footbridge in place, May 2012
- CAD impression of the proposed pedestrian bridge - NWN 10 Mar 2011
- The new bridge being craned into position, 2-3 Mar 2012