Engineers have started the careful job of taking down the historic Elland Bridge which is being rebuilt after the Boxing Day floods caused catastrophic damage – and Friday will start to dismantle historic stonework.
The Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of historic waterways in England and Wales, has this week started pulling down the bridge over the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal. The bridge has been closed since the force of the floodwaters washed out its foundations and undermined the road above.
The work can get underway as utility companies have recently completed works to divert important services such as electricity cables, gas pipes and telecoms wires, which were carried on the bridge. These services now cross the waterway via a specially constructed temporary bridge.
Built in around 1811, Elland Bridge is Grade II listed and contractors are taking a sensitive, methodical approach to the works.
Important features are being carefully removed and catalogued so that they can be re-used in the replacement bridge. These include the huge stone copings on the top of the bridge, the dressed stones over the arches (known as voussoirs) and the remains of cast iron rope rollers which allowed boat tow ropes to run smoothly through the bridge back in the days when freight barges were pulled by horse.
The new bridge has been designed to look similar to the existing one but with a strengthened concrete arch inside it. The result will be a stronger bridge, built to modern standards while still reflecting the history of the canal.