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Council’s careful restoration of Bridgegate Bridge on the City Walls is complete

Cheshire West and Chester Chester visitor economy 04/10/2021

Grade I listed bridge, at the end of Lower Bridge Street

Careful repairs to Bridgegate Bridge on Chester’s historic City Walls are now complete.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Bridges and Structures team arranged the project, which took place between January and early September this year.

The Grade I listed bridge, at the end of Lower Bridge Street, was originally closed for safety reasons when a problem was found with the parapet.

Scheduled Monument Consent, which can only be granted by Historic England, was needed to enable the Council to investigate the cause of the problem and to check that parts of the structure below the paving were in a safe condition. Repairs then had to take place when weather conditions were warm enough to allow the use of specialist lime mortar.

The structure has now been restored with care and painstaking attention to detail. The parapet coping stones were originally tied together using slate but over the years some had been replaced with concrete.  During the repairs these concrete ties were removed and new slate ones were installed to ensure the repairs undertaken were sympathetic to their original materials and in keeping with the bridge’s age.

The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The Council is honoured to have such a precious and historic structure under its care.  Since 2009 a total of over £7m has been spent on projects to restore and maintain Chester’s City Walls.

“At Bridgegate, investigations into the way the various parts of the parapet are connected together found a number of defects which have now been repaired.  However, the structure beneath the walkway paving was found to be in good condition and structurally sound which was good news.

“While the bridge was closed, engineers took the opportunity to carry out some routine tasks like masonry repairs, repointing and vegetation removal which are difficult to carry out when the bridge is in use, to minimise disruption.”

The southern section of the City Walls follows the line of previous medieval defences, although these have been repaired and re-built on numerous occasions over the centuries. The present gate replaced a previous medieval gate which comprised of a narrow arch flanked by two large towers.  The current neoclassical Bridgegate Bridge was designed by Joseph Turner and constructed in 1781.

Work continues at several locations on the City Walls including the section that collapsed in January 2020. They remain incredibly complex, challenging and therefore lengthy projects to undertake.  Updates on projects on the City Walls are published on a dedicated web page on the Council website.