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Iron Bridge Restoration Project

Marple's Iron Bridge Restoration Project Diary

In August 2003 the Iron Bridge Restoration Project Group was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £30,100 towards the cost of the first phase of work needed to achieve the restoration of the historic Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park. This page forms part 2 of a project diary to keep visitors informed of progress since this new phase commenced.

There is also a Campaign Diary, covering the two years prior to this award, which records the events since June 2001, when The Marple Website's campaign to restore the Iron Bridge began. This is split into two pages, one for each year, due to its size.

A shot of the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park taken in 1963.
A shot of the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park taken in 1963.

Originally entries were displayed in reverse chronological order, with the latest at the top of the page to make them easier to find during the live campaign. When migrating here entries were switched to cronological order to make it easier to follow the timeline of events from start to finish.

The text is as written at the time and has only been edited where links etc. no longer work.

Iron Bridge Project Planning Phase Diary (Part 2 from October 2004)

09 October 2004

You may have been thinking that it's been a long while since the diary was updated, and you'd be right. It's been a busy summer for fundraising and publicity, but it's been a long time since we've been able to publish any news regarding progress on the scheme to restore the bridge. As we last reported, way back in April, we expected to have agreed the selection of the option that would go forward as part of the application for funding of the next phase to the Heritage Lottery Fund before we set off on our sponsored walk in May.

Unfortunately, debate of the engineering solutions and conservation objectives to determine the best way to restore the bridge has continued throughout the summer months without a final conclusion being reached. We've been to a number of meetings with Stockport Council, the Engineers and other interested parties, including English Heritage, at which we expected final agreement of the best option to be reached. However, for various reasons this has not yet been possible and the options have had to continue being developed further. It's easy to view these delays as negative, and they have certainly been frustrating for us, but it is important that all avenues are fully explored and the correct decisions made before we commit to a single option. We will only get one chance to do it right after all!

We've been reluctant to publish information on the web site whilst things have seemed so uncertain and we did not want to mislead, or have to contradict ourselves when things have not gone as we'd expected, which has happened quite often. We are still uncertain now how close to a solution we are but feel we have reached a point where we must publish some news.

Presently we are waiting to learn the date of the next meeting, which is currently being arranged to review the findings of the additional optioneering work that has been carried out recently. We are hopeful, but not confident, that this time a conclusion can be reached and the way forward agreed. We will tell you when that meeting has taken place and explain the outcome once we know it.

The Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park in the summer of 1975.
The Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park in the summer of 1975.

News on the fundraising front is more positive. We've received another £100 from Marple Carnival Committee, taking their total contribution to £450 over the last 3 years. Three more Ring o' Bells quiz nights have raised a further £281, which takes the total raised there to a fantastic £2323.60 to date. This is not far short of our current biggest fund raiser - the sponsored walk - which is now just about all collected. We should also be able to boost this further by claiming back the tax through the Gift Aid scheme. In addition we've received another personal donation and a bit more commission on Gordon Mills' video and Ann Hearle's book. Finally, a new source of funds is the Marple Wine Club, run by local man John Hulme. We've agreed with John that commission on sales through the Marple Website will be donated to the Iron Bridge. Sales have been modest at the moment, but every little counts!

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 7 July £5198.83
New Sponsorship* £8.00
Ringers Quiz 04/8/04 £95.00
Ringers Quiz 01/9/04 £118.50
Ringers Quiz 29/9/04 £67.50
Marple Carnival £100.00
Donations £20.00
Book & Video Commission £5.00
Marple Wine Club Commission £7.50
Funds available £5620.33
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3400.00
Total Funds Raised £9020.33

* Only includes sponsorship received, see below
Sponsored Walk Funding @ 09/10/04
Total sponsorship received £2561.74

08 December 2004

On 21 October Stockport Council held an internal meeting to discuss the options for restoration of the Iron Bridge and to determine their position regarding the way forward, in particular with regard to the height of the secondary parapet rails that will be placed inside the old ones. This was necessary due to conflict between the requirements of modern regulations and the desire to minimise the impact on the aesthetic appearance of the bridge. There were wide ranging views on this topic from within different sections of the Council and there was a great deal of debate. The situation was complicated by proposals for a new SEMMMS Trail that will extend from the end of the Middlewood Way, at Rose Hill, to Etherow Park in Compstall. This will pass through Brabyns Park and cross the River Goyt over the Iron Bridge.

We were not invited to this meeting so we sent a letter to the Council expressing our views. The conclusion of the meeting was that the advice of English Heritage should be sought over the issues surrounding parapet heights, as any work carried out on the bridge will be subject to Listed Building Consent.

A further meeting was held with English Heritage on 18 November. This was attended by all parties of the Iron Bridge Restoration Project Group, including SMBC's Conservation Officer and Engineers, Parks & Recreation, Marple Local History Society and ourselves. Scott Wilson, the Consultant Engineers, were also in attendance and they had already held advanced discussions with English Heritage on the solutions proposed.

The meeting was successful as clear direction was given by English Heritage on what was likely to receive Listed Building Consent and what would not. The issues surrounding parapet heights were resolved by English Heritage's guidance that they must not exceed the height of the existing stone domes at each end of the bridge, rather than be a set height in relation to the walking surface. This is not yet fixed as the final depth of "fill" above the wooden decking has yet to be determined. The existing "fill", comprising of soil, gravel and leaf mold, is approximately 450mm deep but it is hoped to be able to reduce this to as little as 200mm by the use of alternative materials.

One problem relating to this which is not yet solved, is exactly how to deal with a gas main that runs across the bridge. This is currently buried within the "fill" on top of the wooden decking. Discussions are ongoing between Scott Wilson and Transco to find an acceptable solution.

Most other less contentious issues were resolved and we now appear to have a scheme for strengthening of the bridge and for additional parapets that everyone will find acceptable and can be taken forward to detailed design. Before this can be done the proposals need to be ratified by SMBC's higher management and elected representatives, which we hope will be achieved in the near future.

Once this is done, and subject to resolving the gas main problem, Scott Wilson will be able to prepare an "Approval in Principle" document, which will describe exactly how the detailed design will be carried out. This will be reviewed by the Council and ourselves and then approved so that the detailed design can commence, hopefully early in the New Year.

30 December 2004

On Thursday 16th December the first physical activity for some considerable time took place at the bridge. In order to begin finalising the Approval In Principle Document the Engineers needed to be more certain of the location of the gas main that runs across the bridge. The pipe is buried within the 18" or so of 'fill' above the wooden decking but nobody was sure exactly where, or even what size it is. As the pictures below show, the 6" diameter pipe was found to run almost exactly through the centre of the bridge and is virtually resting on top of the wooden deck. Both of these things are good - if it's in the centre it means that it will not interfere with the fixing of the secondary parapets at either side, and - if it's resting on the decking it may be possible to cover it with a reduced depth of 'fill' rather than have to relocate it. However, at this stage the best solution remains to be determined by the Engineers.

Fund-raising has continued steadily over the last few weeks, with two further quizzes at the Ring o' Bells bringing in £193.55. A third quiz was due to benefit the bridge last night but in view of those terrible scenes we've all been witnessing on our TV's during the last few days we decided to forgo our monthly slot in favour of the victims of the South Asian Tsunami Disaster. We were pleased that the quiz raised £220.50 for this cause, including the £100 prize donated by the winner of the Higher & Lower Game. Other fund-raising in the period has included more commission on sales of Gordon Mills' videos and Ann Hearle's Marple & Mellor book, donations from members of the local community and yet more sponsorship from the walk back in May. This has continued to trickle in but surely that must be the last of it now!

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 9 October £5620.33
New Sponsorship* £15.00
Ringers Quiz 27/10/04 £111.50
Ringers Quiz 01/12/04 £82.05
Donations £30.00
Book & Video Commission £18.00
Funds available £5876.88
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3400.00
Total Funds Raised £9276.88

* Only includes sponsorship received, see below
Sponsored Walk Funding @ 30/12/04
Total sponsorship received £2576.74

23 January 2005

We're always looking for new ways to raise money for the bridge and we are currently auctioning on e-bay an excellent wood turning lathe that was given to us. If this is successful we'll try to use e-bay more often to contribute to our fund-raising efforts.

The status of the funding situation is that the repair and strengthening of the bridge is still expected to cost in the region of £150,000. This remains a provisional estimate that will be firmed up once the detail design is complete and the work has been put out to tender. In addition to this it is expected to cost at least £25,000 to re-route the gas main running across the bridge. This is also a provisional estimate and may change when the work is examined in more detail by Transco.

So, based on these figures, upwards of £175,000 is needed to complete the bridge's restoration. If we are able to make a second successful bid for Heritage Lottery Funding we could receive an award of up to 90% of the total cost. The remaining 10% - or £17,500 - would need to be raised in match funding. This does not need to be all cash, as it can include volunteer labour and other contributions like the offer of free paint from E. Wood Ltd. and the professional services offered by Myers Treecare.

As shown above, we have currently raised nearly £9,300 in total, £3,400 of which is already committed to the current phase of work. This leaves us with a balance approaching £5,900 and means that we would need to raise in the region of £11,600 more, in cash or in kind. At present we do not have a firm value for the paint or the tree surgery work. When we do, the balance we need to find can be reduced accordingly. It is likely that the opportunities to use volunteer labour will be limited, due to the specialist nature of most of the work, however, this is another area that we will also need to explore.

So if you would like to make a donation, or think you can help us in any other way, please get in touch using our contact us page.

Regarding progress on the solution for restoring the bridge - we have now received, via SMBC, the Approval in Principle Document from Scott Wilson, the consultant engineers. We have returned our comments on this to the Council, who will no doubt have their own comments too, and they will ultimately have to approve it before the detail design can proceed. We hope this will not take too long and that we will be able to publish the 'AIP' and drawings of the scheme on-line for our visitors to view once they are approved.

30 January 2005

Another successful quiz at the Ring o' Bells has inflated the Community Raised Funding by £82 and, after being convinced there was no more to come in, we found £70 extra sponsorship money for the walk!

Marple Local History Society have applied for registration with the Inland Revenue in order to claim back the tax you paid on the money that was donated by Gift Aid and we calculate that this may amount to more than £370. We won't count that chicken 'til it's hatched, but it would be fantastic if we can get that much because it would take the total raised by the sponsored walk to over £3,000.

The e-bay auction is getting quite exciting as it has been visited over 600 times and it's being watched by 30 people, some of whom have been asking questions. We're hoping for a big flurry in bidding towards the end - if not the person who has matched the £50 reserve already is going to get a real bargain on Tuesday night!

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 30 December £5876.88
New Sponsorship* £70.00
Ringers Quiz 26/01/05 £82.00
Funds available £6028.88
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3400.00
Total Funds Raised £9428.88

* Only includes sponsorship received, see below
Sponsored Walk Funding @ 30/01/05
Total sponsorship received £2646.74

26 February 2005

On the progress front, we are still waiting for the Council to finalise the Approval in Principle document with Scott Wilson and to learn when the detailed design will commence and how long it will take. We have been requesting a progress meeting with SMBC for a fortnight and are hopeful that this will now take place within the next week.

A postcard looking across the Iron Bridge into Brabyns Park, taken in 1978.
A postcard looking across the Iron Bridge into Brabyns Park, taken in 1978.

Fundraising has continued to go well and those of you who followed the e-bay auction will know that the sale of the lathe realised £102. There was a great deal of interest in it and the page was visited nearly 1000 times! The February quiz at the Ring o' Bells was quieter than they've been for a good while - probably due to the awful weather and Champions League football - but still managed to raise a further £73. Other money coming in has included the prize from a football results prediction competition and more commission on Internet wine sales from Marple Wine Club.

The claim for repayment of tax on the Gift-Aided sponsorship for the walk has been submitted and we must now wait for the Inland Revenue to process it before we learn if it has been successful.

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 30 January £6028.88
E-bay Sale (lathe) £102.00
Ringers Quiz 23/02/05 £73.00
Marple Wine Club Commission £4.75
Football prediction prize £7.00
Funds available £6215.63
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3400.00
Total Funds Raised £9615.63

14 May 2005

As we wrote in the diary above, at the beginning of March this year we believed we were very close to agreeing a final scheme for the bridge's restoration. We thought we were just waiting for the Approval in Principle document to be finalised and approved so that the detail design could commence. We wrote a positive article for the Marple Carnival programme and were looking forward to making some real headway this year.

Once again, after taking one step forward, we've found ourselves unexpectedly taking at least two back.

When we wrote the article for the Carnival programme we had been given a budget price of £25,000 to relocate the 6" gas main running across the bridge - from above the wooden deck to below it. Following further liaison between Scott Wilson, the consultant engineers, and Transco we have now been given a new budget price of £80,000 for the same work. We've also been told that the pipe will be clearly visible below the arched ribs when the bridge is viewed from the side, rather than tucked up close to the underside and out of sight. This is likely to interfere with the additional bracing planned, requiring it to be redesigned, and will spoil the aesthetic appearance of the bridge.

On 5th May a group meeting was attended by SMBC's engineers, the Project Coordinator from Parks & Recreation, Marple Local History Society and ourselves to review the situation. It was agreed that a meeting with Transco would be beneficial and this was subsequently arranged.

The meeting with a representative of Transco was held on Wednesday 11th May. It was also attended by SMBC's engineers, Scott Wilson, the Project Coordinator, the Conservation Officer and ourselves. The Transco representative was helpful and sympathetic to our problems but explained that the gas main is the only supply to the whole of Compstall and it would therefore not be possible to isolate it to carry out the work. This would mean that if the pipe is to be rerouted it will have to be done while the main is live. It is the 'live' connections that add substantially to the cost of the work.

A number of rerouting options were discussed and Transco agreed to provide more detailed estimates for these. It was also confirmed that there was a possibility that the gas main may not have to be rerouted. This would depend on accurate knowledge of the position of the pipe in relation to the deck of the bridge, so that it could be established if sufficient cover could be provided by the reduced level of 'fill' necessary to achieve the handrail heights desired by SMBC (see 8 December 2004). The work done on 16th December 2004 to reveal the pipe on either side of the bridge did not provide information of sufficient accuracy over the area of the bridge's decking to be sure of achieving this solution.

Transco were unable to provide accurate details of the pipe's location and were unwilling to undertake investigative work due to the Bailey Bridge over the top of the pipe. The problem was discussed at length and it was decided that SMBC would have to arrange for the necessary investigative work to be carried out. This will involve digging several trenches across the width of the bridge (under the bailey bridge) in order to determine exactly where the pipe is lying in relation to the wooden deck. Unfortunately the presence of the bailey bridge makes this a difficult task and it will be necessary to close the bridge to the public whilst it is done. This will require a statutory closure notice, which includes a notice period of 8 weeks, so once again we are seeing time slip frustratingly away from us.

In addition to the technical problems described above there has been a fair amount of extra work carried out by Scott Wilson in trying to deal with them and, whilst they continue to be extremely cooperative and helpful and have done some work free of charge, they have made a claim for additional payment. There will also be more extra work required before these problems are resolved and we reach a stage where the Approval in Principle document can be revised and approved and the detailed design gotten underway. SMBC are investigating how to fund this extra work in order to try and avoid eroding the funds that we have raised towards the restoration phase of the project.

We'll continue to battle on and hope that we can retain the support of the local community - many of whom must be wondering what on earth is going on and why we've made so little visible progress. Incidentally, the notice board at the bridge has been vandalised and is currently back with Capricorn Engraving for repairs. We hope to put it back soon.

As usual, news on the fundraising front is better. Quizzes at the Ring o' Bells in March and April raised £138.50 and £63 respectively and we've had even more commission on Internet wine sales from Marple Wine Club. Paul Hartley, Stockport's Conservation Officer, has donated the fee for his recent presentation to the Mellor Society and Marple Local History Society have allocated £40 of the interest received on their account to the bridge. We even have more winnings in the football results prediction competition!

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 26 February £6215.63
P. Hartley fee (Mellor Society) £25.00
Interest from MLS account £40.00
Ringers Quiz 20/04/05 £63.00
Ringers Quiz 23/03/05 £138.50
Marple Wine Club Commission £14.30
Football prediction prizes £21.00
Funds available £6517.43
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3400.00
Total Funds Raised £9917.43

Finally for now, we've been delighted to receive via Marple Local History Society a series of slides of the Iron Bridge and also a couple showing the Scroll Bridge taken in the 1970s. One of these is shown below and the rest have been added to the "Virtual History Tour of Marple" in the Iron Bridge Album.

A beautiful autumn scene at the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park taken in 1978.
A beautiful autumn scene at the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park taken in 1978.

28 May 2005

Great news on the Community Raised Funding front is that we've now broken through the £10,000 barrier for total money raised towards the bridge's restoration. Another win on the football predictions competition and the Ring o' Bells quiz in May ensured that this fantastic milestone was achieved.

In addition, we've just received some more good news that we've been waiting for - the Taxman has sent us a cheque for nearly £378! This is the Gift Aid on the money raised by the Sponsored Walk last year and takes the total from the walk to over £3,000. This is three times our original target, which is particularly pleasing.

So a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored us and you tax payers who ticked the Gift Aid box!

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 14 May £6517.43
Football prediction prizes £15.00
Ringers Quiz 18/05/05 £74.00
Gift Aid from Taxman £377.81
Funds available £6,984.24
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £10,384.24

Included in the above:
Sponsored Walk Funding @ 28/05/05
Total sponsorship + Gift Aid £3,024.55

19 July 2005

First of all, the notice board at the bridge has been repaired for us by Capricorn Engraving and refitted. The repairs cost £35 and have been paid for by Marple Promotions to avoid eating into any of the match funding for the next stage.

The Council managed to find a contractor that could carry out digging of the trial pits to investigate the position of the gas pipe without the need for closing the bridge and the work has now been done. The pictures below show the gas pipe at the 3 locations of the trial pits, which were in the centre and at either side near the stone domes. We will be meeting with the Council on Friday 22 July to discuss the options for resolving the gas main issues now that its exact location has been established.

By coincidence, we met an old Marple gentleman called Ron Booth when we were taking our own measurements in the trial pits. Ron has been taking photographs around Marple for many years and told us that he had taken a slide of the bridge when the gas pipe was installed, during the late-eighties. We later learned that the gas main was installed in 1979 and Ron's picture was actually taken while the wooden decking was being replaced around 10 years later.

The gas main is revealed in the late eighties when new timber decking was installed
The gas main is revealed in the late eighties when new timber decking was installed 

Funds towards the next phase of the restoration have continued to grow, thanks to a variety of sources. The Ring o' Bells Quiz nights in June and July raised £67.50 and £100 respectively; Alan Proctor, of Hawk Green Residents' Association has collected £15 for us; our sales of Gordon Mills' videos and DVDs have raised a further £23.94 in commission and another £7 in commission from Marple Wine Club has been received too. In addition, artist Gina Hargreaves has donated a large batch of two different Marple prints for us to sell to raise money. We sold four at £1 each at the Canal Festival and hope to sell many more in the coming months.

Finally, for now, all Marple Promotions' profits from the Marple and Mellor 2006 calendar now on sale will be donated to the fund - we will not know how much this is until after Christmas, when we know how many have been sold, but hope it will be in the region of £1,000.

The Iron Bridge Fund currently stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 28 May £6,984.24
Donations £16.00
Ringers Quiz 15/06/05 £67.50
Ringers Quiz 13/07/05 £100.00
Video/DVD Commission £23.94
Marple Wine Club Commission £7.00
Gina Hargreaves prints £4.00
Funds available £7202.68
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £10,602.68

22 July 2005

We met with the Council to review the options available to us now that the exact location of the gas main has been identified. Scott Wilson, the Consultant Engineer had produced several drawings showing different options. By far the most interesting to everyone was a new scheme utilising a hollow steel box-section to house the gas main beneath the new parapet posts at the side of the bridge. It was agreed that this design should be developed further with a view to reducing the top rail of the new parapets as far below the stone domes as possible, as required by English Heritage, whilst maintaining a handrail height of 1400mm above the finished surface level to meet the legal requirement for mounted cyclists, as required by the Council.

Hollow box-section design could rehouse gas main
The gas main shown relocated into the righthand side hollow box-section

This scheme involves rerouting of the gas main into the hollow box-section. This has become financially viable because after Transco re-looked at their estimate in more detail they reduced it back down from £80,000 to close on £25,000 again.

16 September 2005

Following a period of drawing revisions and reviews, prolonged by the holiday season, the new scheme was finalised and a revised 'Approval in Principle' document was developed. This was approved by the Group at a meeting on Friday 16th September and it was agreed that the detail design should proceed based on the new "Hollow Box-Section" scheme.

Following completion of the detail design we will be able to go out to tender to obtain firm prices for the restoration phase, which will provide the basis for us to make another application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for up to 90% of the money required. In parallel with the detailed design we will make an application for Listed Building Consent to seek formal approval of our proposals from English Heritage. This is essential because the bridge is a listed structure.

It was thought that, as part of the planning application process, the scheme is likely to be called before the Marple Area Committee for review. In anticipation of this it was agreed that it would be advantageous to hold a public consultation with local people to show those who are interested the solutions proposed for the bridge's restoration, and to give them an opportunity to make comments and suggestions. This was provisionally arranged for 17th and 18th October in Marple Library.

23 September 2005

In order to kick off the detail design a further survey of the bridge was carried out to ascertain detailed dimensions and examine closely the areas where additional strengthening will be connected to the existing structure. Peter was there to capture the action:

Another inspection
Another inspection survey

27 September 2005

With the way forward now clear we need to kick-start our fund-raising in earnest to get sufficient match funding in place to support our application. Until we have prices back from tender we have to base our targets on the estimates prepared by the Consultant Engineer. These suggest that the restoration will cost in the region of £175,000, including £25,000 for the relocation of the gas main. Based on this, and the assumption that we can put together a successful HLF bid for 90% of the costs, we need match funding of around £17,500.

To date we've raised close to £11,000, with £3,400 having been spent already on the Project Planning phase. This leaves us with a current balance of nearly £7,600, so, in round numbers, we need to raise another £10,000. Anyone with any ideas how to help us do this, please get in touch. At present the Iron Bridge Fund stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 19 July £7202.68
Marple Carnival Donation £125.00
Ringers Quiz 17/08/05 £117.00
Ringers Quiz 21/09/05 £86.50
Football predictions prize £32.50
Video/DVD Commission £6.00
Book sales Commission £2.00
Marple Wine Club Commission £7.55
Gina Hargreaves prints £17.00
Funds available £7596.23
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £10,996.23

07 November 2005

Ian Brocklebank and Chris Murphy of Turner & Townsend have donated their Football Predictions winnings of £30 and £33.50 respectively, thank you both! In addition, Mark has added a smaller Footy prize of £11.30 and the October Quiz at the Ring o' Bells raised another £98.50. At present the Iron Bridge Fund stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 27 September £7596.23
Ringers Quiz 26/10/05 £98.50
Football predictions prizes £74.80
Funds available £7769.53
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £11,169.53

27 November 2005

The last month has been a very good period for fundraising. We applied to Marple Area Committee for a contribution towards the match-funding for the next phase and this was considered by the committee at their November meeting. We were pleased to receive a donation of £1,000 from their Area Flexibility Budget and would like to thank the Area Committee for their continued support of the project. We were also delighted to be contacted by the Jubilee Amateur Dramatic Society, based in Marple Bridge, who asked if we could put on a display about the bridge during a recent 3-day production. We lent them our presentation boards and were taken aback when they were returned with a cheque for a superb £400! In addition to these significant contributions, our E-bay Sale of postcards has so far raised £26.99, a further £10 from the Football Prediction prizes has been donated by Arthur Taylor and Marple Wine Club continues to provide a steady trickle of commission. Last but not least, following a contact via the Internet as a result of our articles about Samuel Oldknow and Mellor Mill, we received a donation of £20 in exchange for a copy of an etching of Mellor Mill from a gentleman who owns the original oil painting on which the etching is based!

At present the Iron Bridge Fund stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 07 November £7769.53
Marple Area Committee £1000.00
Jubilee Amateur Dramatic Society £400.00
E-bay Sales £26.99
Donation (Mellor Mill Print) £20.00
Football predictions prizes £10.00
Marple Wine Club Commission £3.57
Funds available £9230.09
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £12,630.09

It's fortunate that fund-raising is going so well, as recent estimates suggest that a total of £250,000 may be required to pay for the restoration of the bridge. This is considered to be an upper limit but of course it will not be confirmed until we receive tenders for the work early next year. So, until we know better, we are now using this figure as the basis for our calculations of how much money still needs to raised.

If £250,000 proves to be correct and we were able to make a second successful grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, we would receive a maximum of 90% of the total cost. This would be £225,000, leaving us with 10%, or £25,000, to find from other sources. Stockport Council have recently undertaken to provide at least 5% of the total cost, which is a condition in the HLF grant application requirements, and this would amount to £12,500 based on our upper estimate. This gives us a target of another £12,500 to make up the balance. In view of the £9,230 already raised, this is an amount that we feel we can realistically achieve if we continue to receive the excellent support of the local community that we've experienced to date. So if you can help us by contributing towards the sum of approximately £3,300 that we still need to raise, please get in touch.

On other fronts - the Engineering is continuing to progress through the detail design stage. On 11th November we attended a meeting with SMBC to review the draft detail drawings and it is hoped that these will be ready for tenders to be issued to potential contractors before Christmas. In addition, a planning application and a submission for Listed Building Consent (required because the bridge is Grade II listed) was made at the beginning of October. We expect to learn the results of these early in the New Year.

An added bonus from our recent meeting with SMBC was the appearance of some more photographs taken in 1992 during the installation of the Bailey Bridge. These were found in the engineering records and they're shown below - but we're looking forward to taking photographs of it being removed!

8 December 2005

Fund-raising continues to go well with a second donation of £500 from the McNair Trust, who also gave us £500 towards the first phase of match-funding. The quiz at the Ring o' Bells on 30 November raised £93 and we had a donation of £1.68 in copper given to us while we were at the Winter Wonderland last weekend, when we earned £6 commission on Gordon Mills' DVDs. The sale of our calendar is going well and we're in the Co-Op tomorrow and Saturday. We look forward to being able to announce the profits on the calendar that can be added to the money below. At present the Iron Bridge Fund stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 27 November £9230.09
Ringer's Quiz 30/11/05 £93.00
MacNair Trust Donation £500.00
Commission on DVD sales £6.00
Donation £1.68
Funds available £9830.77
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £13,230.77 

27 December 2005

Work is due to commence on the compilation of the Access Plan in the New Year. In support of this we've set up a new on-line consultation form and we hope that visitors to the site will show their support for the project by filling this in and giving us their comments.

Click here to access the consultation form

The tenders for the restoration work were due to be issued on Thursday 23rd December. We await confirmation from SMBC that this has happened and to receive our copies of the documents.

On the fund raising front, we are now pleased to be able to announce that the sales of our 2006 Marple and Mellor Calendar have realised a profit of £1,200, which we will donate towards the match-funding for the restoration phase. Other new contributions to this since 8th December include £23.96 worth of donations from the public and £12 commission on Gordon Mills' DVDs & Videos sales while we were in the Co-Op selling our calendars. Kevin Gerrard of Turner & Townsend has also donated his £34 Football Predictions prize and John Hulme of Marple Wine Club has donated £10 instead of sending his friends and family Christmas cards. We are very grateful to everyone for their continued support. The Iron Bridge Fund now stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 8 December £9830.77
Marple Promotions 2006 Calendar Profits £1200.00
Footy predictions prizes £34.00
Donations £23.96
Commission on DVD sales £12.00
Marple Wine Club Donation £10.00
Funds available £11110.73
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £14,510.73

28 January 2006

We met with SMBC yesterday to catch up with how things are going and to review the draft Access Plan. It was confirmed that the tenders were issued on schedule and they are due for return by the potential contractors on Friday 17th February. The tenders will be formally opened by Councillor Sue Derbyshire and we have been invited to attend the ceremony at the Council's offices.

A shot of Reg Walters, then owner of Iron Bridge Cottage, in the garden with his dog as viewed from the Iron Bridge. Taken in late 1980s.
A shot of Reg Walters, then owner of Iron Bridge Cottage, in the garden with his dog as viewed from the Iron Bridge. Taken in late 1980s.

We've had a great response to our on-line consultation - with 50 replies so far - but we are hoping for more before we begin to analyse them in detail and prepare a report of the results that can be included in the Lottery application for the next phase. So if you haven't done so already, please show your support by completing the on-line consultation form.

Fundraising has continued to make good progress. We've recently received a pledge for the fantastic sum of £750 from Marple Business Forum. We've also received a cheque for £100 from the Rotary Club of New Mills, Marple and District, which is their second contribution to the project. We're extremely grateful to both of these local organisations for their generosity and support. In addition, the last two Quiz Nights in December and January at the Ring o' Bells collected £108.60 and £90 respectively, taking the total from this source to over £3,700. The Iron Bridge Fund now stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 27 December £11,110.73
Marple Business Forum £750.00
New Mill, Marple & District Rotary £100.00
Ringer's Quiz 28/12/05 £108.60
Ringer's Quiz 26/1/06 £90.00
Funds available £12,159.33
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £15,559.33

18 February 2006

The tenders for the Iron Bridge restoration work were formally opened at 4 pm yesterday by Councillor Sue Derbyshire in the presence of a number of SMBC officers. Mark was also there representing The Marple Website and Marple Local History Society. It's too early to provide any further details at this stage, suffice to say that there were no great shocks or surprises. The tender submissions will be assessed on both quality and price during the next week or two and we will update the diary with more information when the necessary processes have been completed.

We are also delighted to announce that Listed Building Consent has been granted for the restoration scheme detailed design.

26 March 2006

The tenders have been assessed and a contractor has been nominated to carry out the restoration work, subject to the success of our next application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the necessary funds. We are looking forward to announcing the successful contractor's details here and providing links to their web site but at present we are waiting for the Council to formally notify the unsuccessful tenderers before we can do so.

The Access Plan is now being finalised and the deadline of 31 March for the Completion Report for the current phase is rapidly approaching. We are in the Council's hands regarding this and have been assured that the deadline will be met. The Completion Report to the HLF will include submission of all the reports, drawings and documents produced during the Project Planning phase of the work that has been ongoing since August 2003, when we were awarded the Project Planning grant. The HLF will examine the Completion Report and hopefully agree that we have completed the work for which they gave us the grant. They may have questions or require further information before they do so, and we're not sure how long it will be before completion is confirmed.

An early shot of the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park from Marple Local History Society Archives.
An early shot of the Iron Bridge in Brabyns Park from Marple Local History Society Archives.

We will not be able to submit an application for the restoration phase until the Project Planning phase is confirmed as complete, although we have started work on its preparation and this is the next big task for the Group to achieve.

The Access Plan has revealed a considerable amount of work in addition to that directly associated with the restoration of the bridge. These include more obvious things, like physical access improvements throughout the park, but also interpretation material such as video, audio and a computer generated model for use both on site and remotely to improve intellectual access. Exactly what will be included and how it will be incorporated into the next HLF application is currently being finalised. We'll provide details once this is complete.

The on-line consultation has been a great success with a total of 127 replies. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to this. The results, which were overwhelmingly positive, have been compiled into a report that is included in the Access Plan. The report will be converted to a web-friendly format and added to the site in the near future.

Thanks to quiz nights in February and March bringing in £86.50 and £83 respectively, plus donation of their football prediction winnings from Brian Edwards, Arthur Taylor and Mark, we are now within touching distance of our target of £12,500 community match funding for the next application. The next quiz night in April will be the last one for the Iron Bridge Fund, which now stands as follows:

Community Raised Funding
c/f from 18 February £12,159.33
Ringer's Quiz 22/3/06 £83.00
Ringer's Quiz 22/2/06 £86.50
Football prediction prizes £52.91
Funds available £12,381.74
Funds Committed (Phase 1) £3,400.00
Total Funds Raised £15,781.74

4 April 2006

We're delighted to confirm that the Access Plan has been finalised and a completion report for the Project Planning phase was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund on Friday 31st March 2006 - the due date. The HLF's have since confirmed their acceptance that the work for which the £30,100 Project Planning grant was awarded in August 2003 has been satisfactorily completed.

Following agreement the the Project Planning phase is complete we will be able to submit a second application for a Heritage Lottery grant towards the cost of the restoration work and also for the access improvements and interpretation that have been identified in the Access Plan. If this is successful we hope to receive a grant for up to 90% of the money needed.

Work on the next application is already underway. The restoration costs have still to be finalised but are expected to remain within the most recent estimate of £250,000. In addition, nearly £100,000 worth of potential access improvements have been identified. As well as physical access improvements in the park, these include interpretation panels and possible audio-visual displays both at the bridge and in the 'Stockport Story' museum.

On the match-funding front, the latest estimate identified that £25,000 would be needed to cover 10% of the restoration costs. The Council has committed to provide half of this, leaving The Marple Website with a balance of £12,500 to raise with the help of the local community. The Council has also agreed to find the match funding needed to cover the access improvements. Support has been such that we are now within touching distance of that community fundraising target of £12,500 and, following the final quiz night at the Ring o' Bells in April and the addition of interest from Marple Local History Society, in whose account the money is held, we should achieve it in the very near future.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the Council and all the local organisations, businesses and individuals who have helped us get this far. It's been a longer journey than we expected, and there's still an awful long way to go. So even though we're now much closer than we were a year ago, we've also learnt the hard way that we can't take anything for granted!

The results of the consultation are now available on-line. Thank you to everyone who took part.

Marple Places