13 April 2023: Repainting of original structure completed
The council's Conservation Officer and I caught up with progress at the Iron Bridge today.
Unfortunately we were not able to inspect the paintwork under the bridge as expected because the scaffolding removal was started before we were notified. That's frustrating as it was probably the last chance in my lifetime to see the bridge structure up-close from underneath. Happier news is the council have shared the photos below of the finished paintwork taken before the scaffold removal began.
There is outstanding work to do on the top-side of the bridge, including more vegetation removal, cleaning and repainting of the original railings and touch-up and maintenance works to the modern intervention (the green parts). It's planned for this to be carried out during the coming week or so and it is anticipated that the bridge will remain closed while this is being done.
What's next: scour remedial works
The inspection report identifies that a large stone block has been washed out of the south abutment below the waterline.
Water levels are too high to tackle this issue at the moment but later in the year a temporary dam will be built around the abutment so that the engineers can investigate properly and develop solutions. The stone block will be replaced and other works are likely to include installation of "riprap" stone to protect against future scouring and erosion on both north and south abutments.
27 March 2023: Application of new protective coating
The council has kindly shared some photos following application of the surface tolerant maintenance primer, which is a High Build Aluminium Epoxy. Prior to this the cast iron surfaces were filled where necessary and a primer / sealer coating applied.
In the second image you can see one of two new bracing plates strengthening the cast iron where cracks had developed.
14 March 2023: Blasting work nearing completion
I was pleased to join the council's Conservation Officer today for a site visit to inspect the bridge during the final stages of blasting and paint removal. We were able to have a close-up look at the two cracks in the cast iron and the council's Engineer explained how they would be repaired. Those repairs are due to commence very soon, along with clean-up and preparations for priming and painting. A second visit has been arranged for us to see the final stages of painting before the scaffold and encapsulation is removed.
Although it looks like the metalwork has been primed, it hasn't yet. The flat grey colour is the bare cast iron after blast-cleaning.
13 February 2023: Work is restarting
Stockport Council has advised that work is about to restart on the Iron Bridge repairs.
The bridge will be closed for the duration of the works.
December 2022: Delays and works on hold until after Christmas
The following update was been provided by Stockport Council:
Unfortunately limited progress has been made with this scheme over the past month due to contractor difficulties in erecting the scaffold to our agreed requirements. The scheme has currently been put on hold now until the New Year when a revised methodology is to be submitted by the contractor and subject to our formal assessment / approval the works can then proceed.
The bridge will be open until such time that the works restart.
October 2022: Remedial works to the Iron Bridge start soon!
Stockport Council have advised that remedial works on the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park is provisionally due to commence on the 24th October 2022 and the main contractor is expected to be on site for 8 weeks. They say that the scope of the current project has been developed from the prioritised recommendations contained within the Principal Inspection Report referred to below, and following consultation with Stockport Council's Conservation Officer.
Please note that the bridge will be closed for the duration of the works.
The works will include;
- Scaffold access and working platform(s) to the structure to provide both access to cast iron repairs and to paint the structure.
- Fully encapsulate structure to prevent debris contaminating the watercourse.
- Power wash to remove all vegetation and algae from the wing walls, abutment, superstructures, parapets, deck and in vicinity of bridge.
- Grit blast original superstructure to remove existing defective paint system - including the removal of paint to the parapets and approach rails.
- Cold stitch or mechanically brace with tapped shaped plates cracking to the original cast-iron superstructure - central rib, south abutment (Calibre Metal specialist works).
- Apply new protective coating system (white) to the original superstructure, parapets, and approach rails.
- Replace rusting and missing lock nuts with stainless steel alternatives and insulating washers.
Works to remediate the scour issue highlighted within the Principal Inspection Report are envisaged to take place during the next financial year 2023/24.
This is good news, although perhaps not the best time of year to be painting. A number of questions relating to the described works have been submitted to the council asking for clarification.
January 2022: Marple's historic Iron Bridge revealed to be at risk again
Unfortunately the Restoration Project wasn't the end of the story, as the council failed to carry out maintenance recommended in inspection reports following the bridge's restoration in 2008.
After spotting flaking paint during a visit to discuss the Viewing Platform Refurbishment in October 2020 I began corresponding with the council to try and persuade them to bring the next Principle Inspection forward from December 2021 (and already one year late due to Covid). I had been pushing for it to be done during the spring or summer but was only partially successful and it was eventually carried out in September 2021, with the report being made available in November 2021.
Unfortunately, as well as confirming that the paintwork is in very poor condition, the inspection revealed that there are "two high importance structural members in a critical condition" with cracks. These are "significant defects which", according to the report, "need repairing to avoid potential failure of the original structure". There is also remedial works and scour protection required at one of the stone abutments, where a large masonery block has been washed out by the river below the water line.
In October 2022 Stockport Council advised that remedial works to the cast iron structure will commence this month and remedial works to the stone abutment next financial year 2023/24.
For latest news see top of the page.