Rotten Jubilee Bridge saved from collapse

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Matlock Bath’s iconic Jubilee Bridge has been saved from falling into the river by being restored to its former glory.

Derbyshire Dales District Council has at long last agreed to spend £210,000 on a progamme of work to revamp the historic bridge thanks to a Mercury campaign.

Councillor Garry Purdy, who represents Masson ward, said he had been badgering the council on the subject.

“It is a lot of money for this authority, but what’s the alternative? It doesn’t bear thinking about,” he said.

“The bridge will just disappear into the river.”

He said that while the bridge was deemed structurally sound, it was badly rotten .

The structure was opened to the public in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. Prior to that the only way to get over the River Derwent was by boat.

“It’s a very iconic bridge – not just for the Derbyshire Dales but nationally,” Cllr Purdy commented.

The council announced it was planning to spend £140,000 to restore it in May last year, however after the Environment Agency raised issues over the method the contractors were planning on using to carry out the work and the flood risk on the river, it was postponed.

Cllr Purdy explained that the extra measures needed to adhere to the Environmental Agency’s requirements, and additional work being carried out on the bridge, had pushed the price of the restoration up.

“There is more work going to be done to the bridge’s supports and decking,” he added.

Restoration is now scheduled to start in April and the bridge will be closed until June.

The metalwork will be blast cleaned and defective metal re–plated. The entire bridge will be re–painted with a 20–year guarantee. Safety tests will also be carried out on the structure.

To make the restoration as authentic as possible, a selective paint ‘scrape’ has taken place to trace the original colour scheme. The investigation has revealed three or four colours have been used down the years, with the current maroon and cream scheme introduced in 1987. The bridge is now set to be returned to its original mid–green colour.

A district council spokesperson said: “We set aside money in last year’s capital programme after local people, traders and the local media correctly made the point that the bridge was in need of refurbishment.

“There were many good reasons why the work had to be postponed last year, but we’re pleased to report that Jubilee Bridge will now get its first facelift since its centenary year over 25 years ago.”

Opinion is split between Mercury readers about whether the project is necessary.

Commenting on Facebook, Richard Beastall said: “An amazing Matlock Bath Landmark that sorely needs restoration! Well done DDDC!”

Sarah Hutchinson Bell added: “About bloomin’ time, it needed doing! Bring a bit of colour to the area, but maybe could of been done earlier before all this money saving.”

However John Fellows commented: “Didn’t Derbyshire Dales District Council just put up car parking charges by nine per cent in December because it needed the revenue to maintain frontline services? Then they find over 200k to paint a bridge! Clowns!”

Robert Barrington–Evans said: “How does it possibly cost over 200k to restore? Unbelievable waste of money!”