New Pooley Bridge opened with sheep crossing

  • Published
Media caption,

Flock of sheep among first to cross new bridge

A flock of sheep has been shepherded across a new bridge as it celebrates its official opening.

The new Pooley Bridge near Ullswater is the permanent replacement for a 250-year-old crossing that was destroyed in 2015 by Storm Desmond.

Cumbria County Council said the 128ft (39m) single-span structure was the first stainless steel road bridge of its kind in the country.

Among the first to cross were farmer William Coulston and his Swaledales.

Residents had faced a 15-mile diversion to get across the River Eamont until a temporary bridge was installed in March 2016.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The previous Pooley Bridge had stood since 1764

Colin Hindle from Granny Dowbekins Tea Room, which stands beside the bridge, said it was an "enormous" relief to have a new permanent crossing.

He said the flood had been "like a disaster movie", with the bridge's collapse like "an old friend dying".

"It was a dreadful, dreadful time," he told BBC Radio Cumbria, adding: "A lot of businesses really suffered.

"The inconvenience of the public not knowing how to get to us did impact on us."

Mr Hindle said the new bridge was an "iconic structure" that was "elegant and unique".

Image source, Cumbria County Council
Image caption,
The new bridge has cost about £5m to build and is said to be the first stainless steel bridge for vehicles in the country

He also said it should cope much better with flooding.

"It's higher in pitch than the other one," Mr Hindle said, adding: "The old bridge had 64% of its surface being touched by the river at the height of the flood. This new one at the same level will only have 24% of its surface, so it should be able to resist the water flow much better."

Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, which installed the bridge, said it would be a "historic landmark for years to come".

She said is stainless steel construction would mean minimum maintenance in the future and good "corrosion properties".

Ms Bourne said one of the largest cranes in the country was used to lift the bridge into place.

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