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Prestigious award for restoration of historic Norwich bridge

PUBLISHED: 06:30 05 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:35 02 July 2010

Blackfriars Bridge, St Georges Street - Norwich. The bridge has just been restored.

Blackfriars Bridge, St Georges Street - Norwich. The bridge has just been restored.

Victoria Nicholls

The successful restoration of an 18th century bridge in Norwich has been marked with a prestigious national award.

The successful restoration of an 18th century bridge in Norwich has been marked with a prestigious national award.

A £50,000 refurbishment project was undertaken last year to restore the appearance of St George's Bridge and to secure its long-term future.

The bridge, which is Grade II listed, carries St George's Street over the River Wensum in the city centre.

The quality of the restoration work was recognised through a Historic Bridge and Infrastructure award from the Institution of Civil Engineers.

It was one of only three projects in the country to receive an award at the event, which took place yesterday in London.

The refurbishment of St George's Bridge was led by Norfolk County Council, which worked with several other bodies on the project, as part of Norwich City Council's St George's Street Enhancement Scheme.

Tony Adams, Norfolk County Council member and chairman of the Norwich highways agency joint committee, said: “The bridge is Grade II listed and we worked closely with colleagues at the city council, Broads Authority and English Heritage to draw up a restoration project that would restore and enhance its appearance while safeguarding its long-term future. The detailed designs and even the paint colour were carefully considered and skilled craftsmen from local companies were used to achieve the high-quality result that contributes to the attractive new St George's street scene.”

The bridge, formerly known as Blackfriars Bridge, was built in 1784 to a design by Sir John Soane, the architect of the Bank of England and the creator of the Soane House Museum in London. The original structure was widened in the 19th century.

A detailed inspection in 2007 found that although the bridge was structurally in good condition, most of the original facia panels and cover plates were missing. There was extensive loss of protective coating on the parapets and brickwork repairs were needed.

Repair work during the 10-week project included blast cleaning and repainting ironwork, fitting a stainless steel mesh to prevent pigeons using the ledge and recasting iron fascia panels and cover plates to the original design, requiring skilful on-site work.

The cost of the project was shared by the two councils, with money also being put in by the East of England Development Agency.

Brian Morrey, Norwich City Council member for sustainable city development, said: “I am delighted the work done on this historic bridge has been recognised with a prestigious national award. It was carefully thought out, monitored by the city council conservation team and everyone involved worked hard. The award is well deserved."

Do you know of a project to preserve the city's heritage? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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