The newly refurbished Victoria Bridge, a Grade II* listed suspension bridge which spans the River Avon in Bath, has been highly commended in the ‘Major Project of the Year’ category at the ICE South West 2015 Awards.
Built in 1836 to a design by James Dredge – Bath resident, brewer and bridge builder – Victoria Bridge was the first of over fifty ‘taper’ suspension bridges to be built worldwide, and is one of only a handful remaining today.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the project, which was delivered on time and under budget, was the fact that traffic over the bridge has remained uninterrupted for over 90% of the construction period, even though the historic superstructure has had to be completely dismantled, refurbished and reassembled around the public access route. That flexibility was made possible by the use of some innovative construction methods by the Council’s contractor and by the installation of a truss early in the overall three and half year project programme, which secured the bridge and acted as a temporary public access route.
Much research work was undertaken as part of the project to understand the history and context of the bridge and the life and role of its designer. This gradually uncovered an enormous of amount of previously unknown information about the Bath brewer and engineer, including details of over 50 of his bridges in the UK and overseas (from South America to India), his ideas for the Clifton Suspension Bridge and his family history in Bath and Wiltshire. This incredible set of over 1,500 documents has recently been deposited in the Bath Record Office and is available for the public to view.
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