It was a bridge built over troubled waters.
Now the year-long reconstruction of Elland Bridge – which was catastrophically damaged in the 2015 Boxing Day floods – has been shortlisted in the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Yorkshire and Humber Awards.
Calderdale Council worked with the Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after the Calder & Hebble Navigation, to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible with an extensive programme of work costing £4m.
The work, funded by the Department for Transport, involved building two temporary bridges, redirecting more than 40 utility services and the careful removal and eventual reinstatement of the original stonework on the new structure.
Built around 1811, the bridge is Grade II Listed, so the Trust’s teams painstakingly recorded and removed the masonry to make sure as much as possible could be used in the new bridge.
This included the huge stone copings on top of the bridge, the voussoirs – dressed stones that form the arches – and the remains of cast iron rope rollers which ensured boat tow ropes would not get snagged as they were pulled through.
The bridge reopened to pedestrians and cyclists in January, 2017, and was fully re-opened to traffic last April by Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
The official opening was accompanied by a photographic slideshow and talk hosted by Halifax Photographic Society showing the story of Elland Bridge since the Boxing Day 2015 floods – as well as a chance to sample a new beer specially brewed by the nearby Barge & Barrel, aptly called Celebration Ale.
Clr Barry Collins, Calderdale Council cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, said: “Reopening Elland Bridge was a major part of our flood recovery works in Calderdale, as it’s so important for residents, businesses, commuters and tourism.
“The council and the Canal & River Trust worked really hard to reconnect the community and provide a much stronger and more flood resilient bridge, which will serve local people for many years to come.
“We’re really pleased that this has received recognition at a regional level.”
Judy Jones, heritage adviser at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re delighted that the hard work of everyone involved in rebuilding Elland Bridge has been recognised with this award nomination.
“The new bridge was designed to look very similar to the original, preserving as many of the important historic features as possible, but incorporating the strength of a concrete arch. Now Elland canal bridge looks very familiar to local people, retaining the scale of the original and able to withstand the pressures of modern use.”
The ICE Yorkshire and Humber Awards showcase outstanding work by civil engineers across the region. The ceremony takes on March 2 in Harrogate. The Elland Bridge reconstruction has been shortlisted for the Smeaton Award for projects costing less than £5m.
Penny Marshall, ICE regional director for Yorkshire and Humber, said: “The standard of entries we see every year is exceptionally high and this year is no different.
“As well as engineering excellence, the shortlisted projects also have to demonstrate to the judging panel that they have benefitted the communities where they are situated, and the judges have a difficult task ahead of them.”