DEMOLITION WORK has started on a historic bridge in West Yorksire which suffered major damage during the Boxing Day floods.
The Canal and River Trust started pulling down Elland Bridge over the Calder and Hebble Navigation today.
The plan is to maintain as much of the original features of the bridge in Elland as possible.
I has been closed since the force of the floodwaters washed out its foundations and undermined the road above leading to parts of the carriageway giving way.
The floods at the end of 2015 caused massive a widespread damage across Yorkshire.
Elland Bridge – a road bridge and a main route near Halifax, has been closed since the end of last year.
Elsewhere the force of the floods led to Tadcaster Bridge collapsing, Linton Bridge, over the River Wharfe, near Wetherby, was sealed off after being damaged and part of Copley Bridge, in Halifax also collapsed.
The Government has pledged up to £5m for the replacement of Elland Bridge. As part of the package the trust is also helping to replace the nearby Crowther Bridge which is owned by Calderdale Council and was also severely damaged by the floodwaters. Both bridge are expected to be built before the end of the year.
Judy Jones, heritage advisor for the Canal and River Trust, said; “It’s sad to see Elland Bridge being taken down but this is an important step in reinstating the link across the canal for local people.
“Research has shown that the bridge was built just over 200 years ago as an extension to the river bridge and so has great historical interest.
With this in mind it’s not just a case of going in with a wrecking ball, we’re taking a careful approach to preserve as many of the important features as possible so that they can be put in place on the new bridge.
“As a result the new bridge should look familiar to local people, retaining the scale of the existing bridge and boasting some of the historical features.”
built to modern standards whilst still reflecting the history of the canal.”
Elland Bridge is Grade II listed and was built in around 1811. Important features are being carefully removed and catalogued so that they can be re-used in the replacement bridge. These include the huge stone copings on the top of the bridge, the dressed stones over the arches (known as voussoirs) and the remains of cast iron rope rollers which allowed boat tow ropes to run smoothly through the bridge back in the days when freight barges were pulled by horse.
The new bridge has been designed to look similar to the existing one but with a strengthened concrete arch inside it. Once the bridge has been taken down then works to build new foundations will begin. When these are completed, around the end of June, the canal beneath the bridge will be reopened to boaters while the remaining works take place.
A temporary footbridge next to Elland Bridge which was constructed in January will remain in place throughout the works.
An open day is planned for the summer enabling local people to see the works for themselves. More details will be posted on www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.
The work can get underway as utility companies have recently completed works to divert important services such as electricity cables, gas pipes and telecoms wires, which were carried on the bridge.