Described as “the “Jewel-in-the-Crown” of Cumbria County Council’s Infrastructure RecoveryProgramme, and the “Peoples’ Bridge”, Pooley Bridge is the UK’s first stainless-steel road bridge. A £7.6M replacement for a beloved listed stone 1764 Lake-District packhorse-bridge destroyed by Storm Desmond, December 2015, Pooley Bridge was one of 784-bridges damaged/destroyed, creating a 16km detour. The River Eamont bisects the village, the main access blocked to the south/west, with its facilities on the east-bank.
For the bridge whilst the client is Cumbria CountyCouncil, the end customer has always been viewed as the local stakeholders with who the project has engaged throughout the entire project life cycle. Cumbria wanted a future-proof bridge flood resilient, complying with EA regulations with a clear span and meeting villager’s wishes for an iconic bridge to replace the eponymous structure. For concept design Cumbria appointed bridge specialists Knight-Architects, with Mott-MacDonald.
Knight led an intense engagement process translating the community’s diverse aspirations into a design that achieved unanimous support. The result is a beautifully slender 40m single-span arch with a top-tie, a composite structure, with a reinforced concrete deck and arch, connected to a stainless-steel structure with spandrels at 90º to axis of the arch. Lean duplex stainless-steel whilst 2.5 times more expensive than carbon steel was selected for its whole-life-cost, maintenance-free, higher strength and aesthetics. The design compliments the UNESCO World Heritage Lake District National Park, and a SSSI, respecting its history, providing unhindered views, and minimising water flow obstruction. The Pooley Bridge design and construction is an extraordinary example of the community, the landscape, designers and the contractors working in harmony to provide an outstanding bridge – or, in civil engineering speak, an infrastructure asset.
It epitomises the importance of the societal benefits that civil engineering delivers, highlighting the things we take for granted but find life very hard to live without.
The loss that the community felt when the former bridge was destroyed was palpable. People spoke of a shock and disbelief at what they had witnessed.
As the consultation to design a replacement commenced, there was a strong desire to do the former bridge justice by making the replacement bridge the best that it could possibly be. Excellent community engagement, which continued over the course of a year on three initial models, ultimately produced a design backed by unanimous support. Consultation continued through construction with continuous engagement with villagers/councillors through meetings, door-knocks newsletters, resulted in the community celebrating the structure, producing commemorative beer, jigsaw, book on the old and new bridge fridge-magnets. Consultation emphasised the necessity of maintaining access to Pooley limiting damage to tourism. Donations to community groups; college/schools STEM-visits, apprenticeships university placements formed Eric Wright Civil Engineering social-value offer. EWCE engaged a largely Cumbrian supply-chain.
COVID-19 rules deemed works essential infrastructure. A confined site over a SSSI salmon river there were no accidents/environmental incidents.
We have submitted the new Pooley Bridge as our entry as it is the first stainless steel bridge in the UK, a beautiful structure that compliments a world-renowned landscape and it has been developed with the community who have dubbed it “the People’s Bridge”. We seek recognition for project for the community of Pooley Bridge and the people of Cumbria whose lives were severely affected by the climate catastrophe of Storm Desmond.