Engineers have begun removing historic stonework from a bridge being rebuilt after suffering catastrophic flood damage.
And it’s almost like a giant jigsaw.
Important features are being carefully removed and catalogued so they can be re-used in the replacement Elland Bridge.
Read more: Demolition work underway at Elland Bridge
Built around 1811, the bridge is Grade II listed. Now contractors have begun removing stonework, including huge stone copings on top of the bridge, dressed stones over the arches, and remains of cast iron rope rollers which allowed boat tow ropes to run smoothly through the bridge 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, making it stronger whilst reflecting the canal’s history.
The bridge has been closed since the force of the Boxing Day floods, which caused carnage across Calderdale, washed out foundations and undermined the road above.
Utility companies have diverted services such as electricity cables, gas pipes and telecoms wires, which were carried on the bridge, and now cross the waterway via a temporary bridge.
Judy Jones, heritage advisor for the Canal & River Trust which is managing the work, said; “It’s sad to see the bridge being taken down but this is an important step in reinstating the link across the canal for local people.
“Research has shown the bridge was built just over 200 years ago as an extension to the river bridge and so has great historical interest. With this in mind it’s not just a case of going in with a wrecking ball, we’re taking a careful approach to preserve as many of the important features as possible so they can be put in place on the new bridge.
See pictures taken after the bridge collapsed below
“As a result the new bridge should look familiar to local people, retaining the scale of the existing bridge and boasting some of the historical features.”
Once the bridge has been taken down, new foundations will be built and when complete, around the end of June, the canal beneath the bridge will reopen to boaters while remaining works take place.
The Government has pledged up to £5m for the replacement bridge. As part of the package the Trust is providing expertise to replace nearby Crowther Bridge, owned by Calderdale Council, and also severely damaged by the floods. Managing the projects in tandem means cost-efficiencies in design and construction.
It’s hoped both will be available for use by the end of the year. A temporary footbridge next to Elland Bridge will remain in place throughout the work.