The Marple Website - Fighting To Keep Our Heritage Safe

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The Iron Bridge Restoration Project Construction Diary

In July 2007 the Iron Bridge Restoration Project was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £427,700 towards the restoration of the historic Georgian cast iron bridge in Brabyns Park. This page will track the progress and latest news as the work gets underway in the same way that we have recorded progress on the project since we began campaigning for the bridge's restoration in June 2001. 

Use the links below to learn more about the history of the Iron Bridge and the battle to save it, or read on for the latest news:

Heritage Lottery Fund Grant Award and Project Summary The Park, the Iron Bridge and the people involved in its construction Community Channel TV
Restoration: You make it happen
Iron Bridge to Iron Bridge
 Sponsored Walk
The Campaign Diary Year 1
June 2001 to June 2002
The Campaign Diary Year 2
July 2002 to July 2003
Project Planning Phase
Aug' 2003 to March 2006
On-line Consultation
results
Photos of the Iron Bridge
in our Virtual Tour
CGI Model
Work in Progress
Photographic Record Construction Drawings
Brabyns Park Discovery Trail Download Iron Bridge Documentary Film

Latest News - 24 October 2012

Listening Post Installed
The listening post has now been installed at the Iron Bridge. Here's a photograph of it and for more details check out the update below and the copy of the sound recording that it contains. We have some more slots and may put something else on it soon.

05 October 2012

Listening Post Recording Completed
The final outstanding task on the Iron Bridge Restoration Project is to install a listening post at the bridge. This will be an audio device powered by hand-wind with a recording of basically the same information that is written on the bronze plaque. The main purpose of the post is to give people who may be unable to read or gain access the plaque an alternative way of obtaining information about the bridge, but of course it's something that can be enjoyed by anyone who is able to hear too.

It's taken a long time to find someone who could help us to produce a good quality sound recording for the device free of charge but thanks to the voice of Elizabeth Galloway and the technical skills of John Woodruff, both from the Carver Theatre Group, we now have exactly what we were hoping for. The next step is to install the listening post at the bridge but in the meantime you can hear the recording on-line by clicking the link:

Iron Bridge Listening Post Sound Recording
This is an MP3 file of 4.41MB that should play automatically on most computers.

A very big thank you to Elizabeth and John from the Carver Theatre for the brilliant job they have done for us.

23 December 2011

Iron Bridge Viewing Platform completed
First opportunity to photograph the completed viewing platform was yesterday - doesn't it look great!

For more images see the Virtual Tour.

2 December 2011

Iron Bridge Viewing Platform railings installed
Viewing Platform Railings installed on Friday 2 December 2011. Still awaiting final paint and scaffold removal. 

25 November 2011

Iron Bridge Viewing Platform nearing completion
The Iron bridge Viewing Platform is now complete except for the railings, which should be fitted early next week.

19 November 2011

Iron Bridge Viewing Platform Improvements underway
Work on the improved Viewing Platform is well underway, with the retaining wall almost completed and ready for concrete to be pumped in and hold everything together. Work on the foundations and decking is expected to take around another week, followed by installation of the railings. For more images visit the Virtual Tour using the links above.

30 October 2011

Iron Bridge Viewing Platform Improvements to start
It's been some time since there was any news on the Iron Bridge Restoration Project but at last we can report that long-planned improvements to the viewing platform near the bridge will commence on 7 November 2011.

A design for the improvements was agreed way back in September 2009 but finding the funds to implement the works has been a problem because it was never in the original budget for the project. This is because the opportunity for a viewing platform only surfaced following the unfortunate demise of the large beech tree near to the bridge.

The total cost of the improvement works is £16,391 and it is largely being funded by the reallocation of money in the original budget for the proposed short drama film by Fusion Films. This ran into difficulties with escalating costs and it was eventually agreed with the HLF to cancel it and divert the funds of £12,491 to the Viewing Platform. The balance is being made up from the 2008 Unilever Dragonfly Award of £2,500 given to us by the Mersey Basin Trust (see further down the page) £250 contributed by Marple Civic Society and £1,143 being contributed directly by Stockport Council.

Here's an image of the platform design but to see the full details click the image below, or follow this link.

24 August 2009

Iron Bridge Documentary Film On-line
We are pleased to make available for viewing by our visitors the Iron Bridge Project Documentary film created by Fusion Films. The film is 12 minutes long and charts the project from our early days of campaigning to the opening ceremony in June last year. Fusion Films and local scriptwriter and actor Aidan Magrath have significantly contributed towards the overall match funding of the project by providing their services at greatly reduced cost, or free of charge. We would like to extent our thanks to Fusion and Aidan for their help and support. In due course there will also be a short drama about the characters involved in the building of the bridge in 1813 and we are looking forward to being able to add this for your enjoyment too.

Both drama and documentary will become part of the Iron Bridge Project displays at the Stockport Story Museum in Staircase House and will be included in an education pack to be distributed to local schools.

12 August 2009

Brabyns Park Display Panel installed
We can now report that the new Brabyns display panel is installed in the park. It's been there for a week or two now but yesterday was the first opportunity to take a photograph. It's in a great position with a commanding view of the whole park and seating to enjoy it. You can read the content of the panel a little further down this page under our 22 March 2009 "sneak preview".

2 July 2009
We were very pleased to receive the following report from Mary Lee of the Mersey Basin Campaign.
(that's Mary pictured with us a little further down the page.)

Stockport School Bridge Detectives - 26 June 2009
What do central Salford and leafy suburban Stockport have in common? Year 5 pupils from Ludworth Primary School in Stockport and The Friars Primary School in Salford turned ‘detective’ recently to find out just that.
The answer turned out to be the recently restored Iron Bridge in Marple, a grade II listed historic structure that was manufactured in 1813 at the Salford Iron Works.

The children turned ‘bridge detectives’ to seek out clues from the bridge in order to discover its secrets and history. Using the design of the bridge as inspiration the children then created fantastic art work using only natural materials. The bridge spans the picturesque River Goyt and the children carried out experiments to see just how clean the river really is. Exciting finds such as Bullhead fish and Mayfly nymphs were viewed close-up under a powerful video microscope.

The week was rounded off by a boat trip along the river Irwell which runs close by the former site of the Salford Iron Works. The children imagined what life was like during the 1800’s, and in the heyday of Salford Quays. They learned of the re-birth and clean-up of the area in the last 25 years.

This unique, weeklong, ‘twinning’ project was masterminded by the Mersey Basin Campaign in partnership with the Longdendale Environmental Education Centre (a partnership between United Utilities and the Peak District National Park Authority) and Stockport council as part of the Marple Iron Bridge project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the council.

For further information about this project, email Mary Lee at

Here are photographs of some of the children who took part admiring the bronze plaque and discovering the cleanliness of the River Goyt near to the Iron Bridge:


Left to right: Jordan M, Sam P, Jack T, Oliver E, Ben R from 
Ludworth Primary School  in Marple Bridge, Stockport.

Ka Ki Chen; Zoe B, Carol B, and Fatimah A
 from The Friars Primary School in Salford

24 April 2009

Overall "Unilever Dragonfly Award" for 2008
The Unilever Dragonfly Awards 2008 web site says that they've spent months looking for the Northwest’s best green volunteers – groups and individuals who’ve shown exceptional commitment, worked with their community, and delivered an innovative or exciting project in their area. The judges had £6,000 worth of prize money to hand out, helping volunteers fund new and ongoing projects that support the aims of the Mersey Basin Campaign; improved water quality, waterside regeneration and community engagement. All nominees for the Unilever Dragonfly Awards must be based in the Mersey / Ribble catchment areas.

The awards were made for three categories: Young people, Individual and Group. Category winners each receive a trophy and £1,000 towards their work. As well as the category winners, the judges selected an overall winner to receive a unique trophy and a cheque for £2,500.

We are flattered to report that The Marple Website has been selected as overall winner of the 2008 Unilever Dragonfly Awards for our part in the Iron Bridge Restoration Project. Here we are receiving the trophy down at the bridge a couple of weeks ago from Mary Lee of the Mersey Basin Campaign.

"Men in Black" - Mary Lee, Mark Whittaker & Peter Clarke

We're delighted that our efforts to restore the bridge have been recognised by this award and we're looking forward to spending our £2,500 prize on something that will help to improve Brabyns Park even more. We have some ideas about what we want to do with the money and we'll announce the details here when they are firmed up. We plan to display the glass trophy you can see in the photo at the Ring o' Bells, so everyone who helped us can see it when they call in for a pint!

8 April 2009

Brabyns Park Discovery Trail Download
The Brabyns Park Discovery Trail can now be downloaded from The Marple Website. Click here to learn more.

22 March 2009

Brabyns Park Display Panel
Once again we've very pleased to be the first to tell you about something new coming to Brabyns Park. The design of an interpretative panel explaining the history and attractions of the park through the last owner of the Brabyns Estate, Fanny Marion Hudson OBE, has been completed and installation is expected very soon. The panel will be sited opposite the entrance to the main car park, looking out across the open space of the park, roughly in the direction of the Iron Bridge.

The area has been prepared already and is just waiting for the panel to arrive but we can give you a sneak preview with the picture and words below. The panel is another new facet of the Iron Bridge Restoration Project and has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Grant. Design is by Jo Wright of Spot-On Interpretation, and it complements the new Discovery Trail booklet. 

Brabyns Park: A grand home to the Hudson family

Welcome to Brabyns Park! 
My name is Fanny Marion Hudson and I lived here when this area was a private estate. My father was a captain in the British Army and I was born in Peshawar, India, in 1851. My father was killed in action and when my mother died, I went to live with my grandmother Ann Hudson and my aunt Maria Anne. We moved to Brabyns Hall in 1868. I was very happy here and lived at the hall until my death, aged 90. Things have changed quite a lot since my time, but there are still some features that survive from the past...
I do hope that you enjoy discovering some of the history of Brabyns Park on your visit. Please come again soon!

Brabyns Hall (demolished)
The hall was a very grand old place and we lived in great style. It was built in the 1740s for Dr. Henry Brabin, a local surgeon. It faced down the valley and across rolling pastures. The beautiful lily pond in its rear garden was created by my great great uncle. During the First World War the hall served as an Auxiliary Hospital and Convalescent Home for injured soldiers and I acted as matron.

Pets’ Cemetery
My family loved animals, especially dogs. They are all are buried here, along with one of our more unusual pets!

The Iron Bridge
Salford Iron Works built this cast iron bridge for my great great uncle Nathaniel Wright in 1813. It was his son John who bequeathed the hall and estate to my grandmother. People must have been very impressed by the bridge at the time because it was one of only a few in the whole country! The nearby stone bridge was also built for Nathaniel in 1804. Known as the Scroll Bridge, its name comes from the beautiful scrolled ends to its parapets.

Wright’s Folly
In the early 1800s, Nathaniel had plans to build a water-powered mill here. I think he may have been inspired by Samuel Oldknow’s mill near Mellor. He had to halt the work after realising that the entire estate would need to be flooded to provide enough reserve of water!

Marple Locks & The Peak Forest Canal 
The canal and Marple’s flight of 16 locks were constructed between 1794 and 1804. They were built to transport limestone from Dove Holes, near Buxton. I loved to walk the dogs along the towpath and watch the canal boats pass through the locks.

Marple Aqueduct
This impressive aqueduct was built in 1800 and was designed by Benjamin Outram, the engineer who worked on the Peak Forest Canal. It is located just outside our former estate. I heard that when it was completed, people came from all over the country to see it.

Use this link If you want to learn more about the Park, the Iron Bridge and the people involved in its construction.

Fanny Marion Hudson (1851 - 1941)

7 March 2009

Brabyns Park Discovery Trail re-launched
We are delighted to be the first to announce that, as part of the ongoing Iron Bridge Restoration Project, a brand new "Brabyns Park Discovery Trail" booklet will be available free of charge at a variety of outlets across the borough within the next week or so. Local people be warned though, there have only been 1,000 copies printed and we think this brilliant new guide is destined to become a collectors' item in record time!

The original Brabyns Park Discovery Trail booklet was written and produced by second year pupils at Marple Ridge College. One or two copies of the old booklet are still available in the Heritage section of Marple Library. The new version has been updated and rewritten by Jo Wright of Spot-On Interpretation with the help of local historian Judith Wilshaw and Mark Whittaker of the Marple Website. Its production was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Iron Bridge Restoration Project.

Although based on the same trail as the original booklet the new version is not just a copy and has developed into something quite different. The booklet allows you to delve into the history of the park and discover its wildlife and natural features whilst enjoying a stroll through woodland, parkland and alongside the canal and riverbank. It includes three pages of excellent colour illustrations by Jo Wright to help you identify the wildflowers, butterflies, trees and birds of Brabyns Park and features Monty the Mallard, who offers ideas for things to do along the way to keep any younger members of your group amused.

Once the booklets have been distributed they will be available at the Tourist Information Centre / Museum (Stockport Town Centre); facility park / information centres at Etherow Country Park, Bramhall Park, Chadkirk, Bruntwood, Torkington, Vernon, Reddish Vale and Brabyns Park (at the Recreation Centre); 19 libraries including Central, Bramhall, Bredbury, Brinnington, Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Dialstone, Edgeley, Great Moor, Hazel Grove, Heald Green, Heatons, High Lane, Marple and Reddish. The Home Library Service, the Mobile Library and Surestart Storybus will also have copies. In addition, the Friends of Brabyns Park will also have some, as will the Ring o' Bells pub, and 150 copies will be distributed with School Packs to Ludworth, Brabyns, St Marys & Mellor schools. 

We've asked for Marple Library to receive extra copies but as you can see from the above they will be distributed pretty thinly and are not likely to be available for very long. So all you folks who have followed the Iron Bridge Restoration Project have been warned, get you hands on a copy fast!

25 January 2009

Bronze Plaque Installed
This weekend presented the first opportunity to get out and take a photo of the new bronze commemorative plaque that has been installed on the tree stump carved by chainsaw artist Andrew Frost. Andrew had been having problems finishing his part of the work due to the continual bad weather but finally managed to have it ready for the plaque to be fitted just over a week ago. He still has further work to do to finish the stump off but the fitting of the plaque, which was supplied by Leander Architectural based in Dove Holes, is now complete. It's brilliant to see our Marple Website logo cast in bronze alongside Marple Local History Society, the council and the Heritage Lottery Fund!

These are the words on the plaque

Nathaniel Wright purchased the Brabyns Estate in 1800. Wright was a wealthy coalminer who owned pits at Poynton and was a contemporary of Samuel Oldknow. Oldknow considered using cast iron for the construction of Bottoms Bridge near to his Mellor Mill around the time Wright moved to Marple but chose the reliability of stone over this modern and relatively untried method. Cast iron was also considered for the Marple Aqueduct but designer Benjamin Outram opted for an all-stone construction too. So it was that Wright became possibly the first in the Northwest to use this modern material for a bridge when he decided that he needed access to his estate over the River Goyt from the direction of what is now Compstall.

At the turn of the 19th century the Salford Iron Works was a substantial Iron Foundry operated by James Bateman and William Sherratt. Their association with Wright began when they supplied him with a pumping engine for one of his coalmines in 1795. Sherratt was an engineer of considerable repute and it is easy to imagine him telling his friend Wright that he could build him a bridge of iron that would impress his peers. In 1813 he did just that when he constructed the slender and elegant cast iron carriage bridge with a personalised ‘W’ motif for Wright on his Brabyns estate. Despite sharing some similarities in design with several other cast iron bridges of the time this is the only one of its kind known to have been built by the Salford Iron Works.

Today the Brabyns Iron Bridge is a listed structure of national importance. As the only know surviving cast iron bridge of its kind in the Northwest it is now a unique example and is of particular importance because it has remained intact since its original construction without alteration or significant loss of fabric. The bridge survived in daily use with minimal maintenance until 1990, when a structural survey determined that it was at risk. In 1991 a Bailey bridge was erected across it as a temporary measure, allowing it to remain intact until the funds could be found to conduct proper repairs.

In 2001 a campaign for the bridge’s restoration was begun by the Marple Website, who were joined by Marple Local History Society in 2002. Later that year a partnership was formed with Stockport Council to find ways to fund its restoration. In 2003 the group made a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a Project Planning Grant. After considerable delays, not least due to the discovery of a six-inch gas main that had been installed across the bridge in the 1980s, a scheme for the restoration was finalised in 2006. A second Heritage Lottery Grant was awarded in 2007 and, with match funding raised with the help and support of the local community, the bridge’s future was secured. Restoration work was completed in 2008, in good time for the bridge’s Bicentennial anniversary in 2013.

22 June 2008

Formal Opening Ceremony
Some were saying that the sun shone on the righteous and maybe that was why we had an unexpected but welcome break in the clouds and rain for long enough to celebrate the formal reopening of the iron bridge today.

Marple and Hawk Green Bands played a great selection of "bridge" tunes as a large crowd gathered to witness the formal proceedings. These were begun by Project Manager Tim Boylan, resplendent in a very sharp suit. Stockport Mayor Councillor Pam King then spoke about the importance of heritage in the borough and Cllr. Shan Alexander, Executive Member for Leisure, gave a potted history of the project. Our own Peter Clarke then gave thanks to the many individuals and organisations who have helped us over the past seven years. Peter was followed by Roger Preece, Curate of All Saints' Church, who impressed us with his knowledge of the links between Nathaniel Wright and the church before blessing the bridge. It was then left to Ann Hearle, who has been our greatest supporter for many years, flanked by the pair of us, to cut the ribbon.

It was great to see the large crowds putting the bridge to test and we've certainly never seen so many people on it at once before. The day was topped off by learning that our float won a prize in the carnival yesterday (or, as Bill Ardern put it, they had a cup left over) and then we made the BBC Regional News this evening.

All in all a very good day and thank you to everyone who came along to share it with us. 

Above - Peter Clarke, Stockport Mayor Pam King, Ann Hearle, Mark Whittaker and Cllr Shan Alexander celebrate the cutting of the ribbon. For more photos of the day visit the photographic record.

13 June 2008


Thanks to Arthur Procter for this picture of us admiring the finished bridge

Iron Bridge reopened today!
The Iron Bridge Restoration itself was completed today and the bridge was reopened to the public at around 4.20pm. There are still a number of other tasks to be completed including the commemorative plaque on the tree stump and carving of the stump by chainsaw artist Andrew Frost.
Access improvements to the site will also continue and the displays for the Stockport Museum, the model, CGI and video still all have to be completed.

As already advised, there will be a formal opening ceremony at 11.30am Sunday 22nd June with music from Marple and Hawk Green Bands commencing from 11am. We look forward to seeing you all on Carnival Day in Memorial Park and in Brabyns Park on the 22nd, when the ribbon will be officially cut!

6 June 2008

Scaffold removal has commenced
Removal of the scaffolding has commenced this week and should be completed by around Tuesday next week. The installation of the new internal parapet posts has also begun, along with other modern intervention including chicane arrangements to slow down cyclists and horse riders, who should dismount before crossing the bridge. Mounting blocks are currently being constructed that will aid the riders to remount. For up to date photos
visit the photographic record.

Although things are a little behind the most recent schedule the contractor is forecasting that the bridge will be reopened to the public on the afternoon of Friday 13th June, providing the weather is kind to us over the coming week!

31 May 2008

Opening Ceremony 11.30am 22nd June
Those of you who have got your copy of the Marple Carnival programme will know that a ceremony to formally reopen the Iron Bridge is scheduled for Sunday 22nd June, the day after the Carnival. We plan to publicise this during Carnival Day itself and hope that a big crowd will join us in Brabyns Park to celebrate the completion of the project. Formal invites should be winging their way to all the groups, organisations and individuals who have helped us to raise funds over the last seven years but we also hope that everyone who has sponsored us, written letters of support or signed our petition way back in the early days will come along too. The ceremony itself is due to begin at 11.30am but the event will get underway from 11am with Marple and Hawk Green Brass Bands providing the very best of musical entertainment in the park. All we need now is for the bridge to be finished in time!

New CGI images
Take 27 Ltd, the company generating the CGI images of the Iron Bridge have released two new draft 3D "animatics" for assessment of timing and camera movement. One depicts the bridge in Georgian times with a horse and carriage crossing it and the other shows the installation of the Bailey Bridge. These are great and we're looking forward to seeing them in their final format. To take a look go to www.take27.co.uk/ironbridge/ and enter the site to see the examples of the CGI work released to date.

Web cam
The scaffolding around the iron bridge is due to come down any day now so our web cam that was mounted on the scaffold has been removed and we are back to just the one on the cottage showing the wide angle view. This should see quite a lot of activity as the work draws to a conclusion over the next couple of weeks. Click here to see what's going on right now!

17 May 2008

Good progress
The deck plates were installed yesterday and repairs to the railings and pointing of the wing walls and abutments are nearing completion. A pristine bridge is now beginning to emerge from the scaffold as the restoration reaches another exciting phase. There are lots more pictures in the photographic record.

The first of at least two free one-day education courses run by Judith Wilshaw takes place today at St Martins Church 9.30 – 4.00pm.

6 May 2008

More delays!
Good news and bad new time again! The good news is that the second SHS was successfully installed today - go to the photographic record to see the latest images. The bad news is that it turned out the decking plates were painted on the wrong side and have to be returned to the fabricators to be repainted, costing yet another week or so of delay. This means we are now well into June before the bridge is expected to be open again and things are getting tighter against the date set for a formal re-opening. Keep watching this space.

3 May 2008

Gas Main Diversion Completed
We're pleased to advise that, following yet more delays, the gas main diversion has now been completed. There are more photos in the gallery here. The second steel hollow box section is due on Tuesday 6 May and once it is installed the assembly of the new decking can commence. Don't forget you can watch it on the web cams.

Latest estimate of when the bridge will be reopened is now early June 2008. Plans for a formal re-opening are underway for Sunday 22nd June, the day after Carnival Day, and more details will be published here soon.


The gas main is gone at last (refer to previous photo below).

28 April 2008

New One Day History Courses
Following the hugely popular 'Story of Brabyns Park and Iron Bridge' 6-week education course funded by the Heritage Lottery grant and led by local historian and tutor Judith Wilshaw, we are pleased to announce two new one day courses on the same topic.

These are also funded by the grant and are therefore free of charge to participants:

The first will be on Saturday 17th May at St Martins Church 9.30 – 4.00pm.

There is a second one planned for Saturday 14th June at St Martins Church 9.30 – 4.00pm

Dependant on the success of the first two we may run a further session in July but we will advertise that nearer the time.

The day course is in essence a condensed version of the six week course. There will be presentations in the morning, the opportunity to look around the church at lunch time and then a guided walk into Brabyns Park in the afternoon. We are hoping that this will be more appealing to those that work during the week and do not have the time to commit themselves to the longer course.

Places will be limited to 30 for each session, so booking is essential.

To book your place or for further information contact
Richard Booker 0161 474 4829 or richard.booker@stockport.gov.uk

2 April 2008

First SHS installed
The first hollow box section beam was installed today and everything seemed to go pretty smoothly. As explained below, the new pipe that will allow the gas main to be diverted inside the SHS beam was fitted at the fabricators and this has saved a lot of effort that would have been needed to install it after the beam was in position. Now the new pipe has to be tied in to the steel main at both ends and then the old section running across the bridge can be removed. After the steel gas main has gone the second SHS can be installed and then the new deck will be constructed between the two of them.

The photo below shows the SHS being manoeuvred into final position on the left, whilst on the right you can see the old gas main that is to be removed. There are lots more photos taken today in the photographic record on the Virtual Tour.

28 March 2008

Good news and bad news (but mostly good!)......
The bad news is that there have been more delays, this time at the fabricators who are making the hollow box section beams. The first one was expected in early March but will now arrive on Wednesday 2nd April.

The good news is that the new gas main has been installed inside the box section in the works, which should more than recover the time lost at the fabricators as the National Grid were originally intending to install it in-situ. There is still quite a lot of work for National Grid to do as the gas supply has to be rerouted through the new pipe whilst it remains live. This will be done by connecting the new pipe to the existing main at each end before sealing off and removing the old section running across the bridge. This work was always felt to be a high risk for causing delays but hopefully it will all be much simpler with the pipe already inside the hollow box section when it arrives. Famous last words again? We'll soon see.

The other good news is that our second web cam inside the encapsulation (that was stolen) has now been replaced, just in time to witness the new activity on site next week. As always we plan to bring you the latest news and continue adding photos to our on-line record as things (hopefully) pick up again over the next few weeks. The forecast completion date for the works remain the end of May at present but as always this is sensitive to how well things go.

Other news is that the Story of Brabyns and Iron Bridge education course, which finished on 12th March, was an overwhelming success with a fantastic attendance way beyond anyone's expectations. So a very well done to tutor Judith Wilshaw for her efforts. We've added a few photos of Judith and course participants to the photographic record and here she is telling her audience about Wight's Folly in Brabyns Park, with a photo of her as a young girl in the walled garden of Brabyns Park inset:


Thanks to Arthur Procter for the main photo.

24 February 2008

Things get moving again
The response to the Story of Brabyns and Iron Bridge history course run by Judith Wilshaw has been incredibly successful with more than 90 attendees each week. It demonstrates again how interested people are in their local heritage and the huge support for the restoration of the Brabyns iron bridge. At the 5th March session Judith will be joined by our own Peter Clarke and representatives of DEW Construction and Stockport Council for a series of presentations about the restoration project.

We are pleased to report that work on site has restarted following lengthy delays while the design of the modern intervention was finalised. Earlier this month the strengthening works to the central arched rib was carried out. This comprised the bonding of steel plates to the rib to thicken it up and the installation of new diagonal and horizontal bracing at the same locations as the original horizontal ties. The new bracing can be seen below with one of the old connections inset. More photos can be found in our on-line photographic record.

Fabrication of the hollow box section beams that will house the re-routed gas main and support the new internal parapets is now underway and installation of the first one is expected in early March. This will be followed by diversion of the gas main by the National Grid and then the second beam can be installed and the rest of the work completed. The main restoration work is currently projected to be completed towards the end of May 2008.

Some bad news is that during the extended period when there was no work on site our web cam inside the encapsulation was stolen. It will be completely useless to the person who took it because it was password protected and it has probably been junked by now. The stolen camera has not yet been replaced but we hope to do so before the gas main diversion begins as this should be a very interesting period with lots of activity in the area covered by the camera.

20 January 2008

The Story of Brabyns and Iron Bridge
There's not much time left to enrol on a short course in the history of the Iron Bridge and Brabyns Estate called "The Story of Brabyns and Iron Bridge’’.

As part of the Iron Bridge Restoration Project we are delighted to be able to offer a 6 week course in the history of the Iron Bridge and Brabyns Estate. The course will be held at St Martins Church Hall on Brabyns Brow and will be led by local historian and experienced adult education tutor Judith Wilshaw. Classes will be held between 2.00pm and 4.00pm every Wednesday for six weeks starting on 6th February 2008 and finishing on 12th March 2008.

This non-accredited course would be ideal for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of Brabyns Park. The course will focus on the origins of Brabyns Estate and the significant events and people that have shaped the park throughout time.

This course has been subsidised by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Iron Bridge Restoration Project and therefore will be completely free to those that wish to take part. However, there are limits on the number of people we can take in the class so to avoid disappointment book your place early by contacting Richard Booker, Parks Development Officer on 0161 474 4829 or email richard.booker@stockport.gov.uk

29 December 2007

Getting somewhere at last?!
Those of you who visit the web site regularly or users of Brabyns Park will know that there has not been much going on down at the bridge since October and that the project has been delayed. We hope to have a new schedule for the work early in the New Year and be in a position to give a clearer idea of when the project will be completed.

As explained in our last entry below, we have been suffering delays due to problems with the detail design of the modern intervention that will house the diverted gas main and support the new parapet rails. There has been a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to resolve this and it has been a very frustrating time for us. We believe that we now have acceptable solutions to issues that have been the subject of extensive debate over the last three months between the engineers and ourselves.

A set of construction drawings for the modern intervention were issued to the contractor just before Christmas. We expect the work to restart early in the New Year, although this will not be confirmed until we receive the new schedule, which will be published here once available. In the meantime, we have now set up a new page with pdf copies of the main drawings for the modern intervention that have taken so long to finalise. These are updated versions of the drawings that many of you will have seen on our displays at local events.

We look forward to giving you more news soon about the schedule of work and likely completion date for the project.

13 October 2007

Falling behind schedule!
Grit blasting and priming of the bridge has progressed well over the last couple of weeks since the encapsulation was completed. Stripping off all that rust and layers of old paint has revealed some interesting details and it's amazing just how crisp and sharp things like the Salford Iron Works lettering actually is. We've taken lots of photos during this process that have been added to the photographic record. One in particular is very interesting, showing the flush bolt heads in the apex panels with the 1813 date cast in to them. The bolts were hand made and each one was pock-marked, probably during trial assembly in the factory, so that they could be put back in the same locations during erection.

With the Bailey bridge removed and the scaffolding allowing much closer inspection some unexpected difficulties have also been encountered. This has included the discovery of a cast iron cross member at each abutment that impinges on the intended location of the new hollow box section edge beams. There are also several other awkward lumps of cast iron where the arched ribs are joined in the centre that were not taken into account in the original edge beam design.

There has been some debate about how to overcome these obstacles and a decision that none of the historic fabric of the bridge will be cut has been taken. This means that the design for the edge beams has to be altered to accommodate these unexpected features and that process is still ongoing at present. This is causing delays to the project as it was intended to commence fabrication of the beams on 17th September and this has still not started. Whilst these delays are undesirable it is far more important that we get the design right and do the job properly.

The grit blasting work gave rise to an extremely dusty and unpleasant environment that was not suitable for cameras but now that this work has finished All Networks have installed a second webcam for us inside the encapsulation. Neither of the webcams will show a great deal of activity over the next few weeks but once the first edge beam is ready the new camera is ideally positioned to give a great view of this being installed. This will be followed by the diversion of the gas main, which should also make interesting viewing.

16 September 2007

Scaffolding commences and railings damaged
Removal of the fill on top of the bridge was completed towards the end of week 3 and the kerb stones were also removed. As we have explained before, these will not be replaced as they are believed to be later additions that were not part of the original bridge design. This has had the effect of making the bridge look even more slender and elegant than before and also allows the deck level to be reduced to a minimum, enabling the modern parapets that will be installed later to be kept below the stone domes at the abutments.

During the last week, week 4 of the project, the Bailey bridge foundations were broken out and removed. Disappointingly during this work accidental damage was caused to the iron hand railings on the approaches to the bridge. This first (and hopefully last) negative set back was primarily due to a hidden railway sleeper being disturbed by the JCB, illustrating just how cautiously this kind of work needs to be carried out. All damage will of course be rectified.

This last week also saw the start of scaffolding work to create a working platform under the bridge. By the end of next week the bridge should be fully encapsulated so that the workface is protected from the elements and the environment protected from the restoration works to be carried out.

3 September 2007

Bailey Bridge removed
The sunshine came out to see the restoration begin in earnest as the Bailey bridge was finally removed sixteen years after it was installed as a temporary measure and six years after we began our campaign.

The whole process went extremely smoothly and the Bailey bridge was removed in a single controlled lift. It really feels like the work is underway now and it was great to be amongst the first people to walk on the old Georgian bridge since 1991. We've added a good number of pictures to the Photographic Record and we hope some of you were able to watch proceeding on the webcam.

Work will continue this week with the removal of the fill on top of the bridge by hand and next week the bridge should be scaffolded out and encapsulated so that there is no contamination of the watercourse during grit blasting, repairs and painting.

2 September 2007

Bailey Bridge to be removed tomorrow!
Andy Andrzejczuk of ALL NETWORKS has completed the installation of our Iron Bridge webcam just in time for visitors to watch the Bailey Bridge being removed tomorrow. This is going to be a very exciting day for us as the removal of the Bailey Bridge is a hugely symbolic step in the restoration process and an event that we've been working towards for the last six years!

We'd like to thank Andy for working the weekend to get the webcam up and running and also Peter Pearson, owner of Iron Bridge Cottage, for allowing us to use his home and telephone line to provide this service.

31 August 2007

Tree work at bridge completed.
Manchester Tree Surgeon Dave Myers was one of the very first people to offer us real practical help when our campaign first hit the newspapers, way back in May 2002. Today Dave was finally able to to honour that pledge and carry out the tree work at the bridge and, even though it turned out to be a much bigger job than expected, Dave has given his services completely free of charge just as he said he would five years ago. We would like to say a very BIG thank you to Dave for the support he has given to the project. We've added a series of pictures of the Myers Tree Care team at work in the photo archive.

The job was much larger than expected due to the sad demise of the huge old beech tree on the south bank next to the bridge. This magnificent old tree, which Dave thinks was around 350 years old, was severely damaged in the storms at the beginning of this year and a huge section of it came crashing down. Fortunately it fell in an easterly direction otherwise we would no longer have a bridge to restore.


The section of the old beech that broke away in winter storms.

When the remains of the tree were inspected after the storms it was found to be suffering from rot and had to be condemned. Initially the council trimmed it hard back leaving a tall but unsightly trunk, however, we were keen for it not to be left this way as it spoilt the view, rather than enhancing it as it used to do.

So today Dave removed the trunk of this hugely popular tree and cut it off at an angle. The reason for this is that we hope it will be possible to mount our interpretation panel on top of the stump, so that despite its demise the 350 year old beech will still be a key feature in the scene after the Iron Bridge is restored.

27 August 2007

Bridge closes tomorrow!
Work started on Monday 20 August and a temporary access road has been constructed adjacent to Scroll Bridge to ensure that there is no further damage to the remains of the stone bridge under the roadway. We have been told that work will be underway on reconstructing Scroll Bridge at the same time as the Iron Bridge is being restored but there are no signs of activity yet.

The footpath diversion through the horse training area that will go around the site compound has also been prepared. Week 2 should see the site compound established and the bridge will be closed to public use.

We hope that our web cam will be installed towards the end of next week, in good time for for the Bailey Bridge coming off during week 3. For good measure Take 27 Ltd have added a 3D digital version of the Bailey Bridge to their GCI preview site but we are looking forward to seeing the real thing for the last time!

On Saturday 25th August Fusion Films were conducting a "Vox Populi" at the bridge. We had to ask what that meant and basically they were filming and interviewing people using the bridge in the park just a few days before its closure and asking them for their views on the restoration project.

We've added Dew Construction's schedule to the links above so you can see how the work is planned to proceed. We've also set up a new photo album in the Virtual Tour ready to start adding photographs of the work in progress. We've kicked this off with a few pictures before work starts, several of which have been provided by Sarah England of Fusion Films.

15 August 2007

CGI Model available on-line
Click this CGI to view more details.Take 27 Ltd, a company specialising in computer generated imagery (CGI) have been engaged to create a 3D computer model of the Iron Bridge that will be used in the Stockport Story museum display. The model can also be used in many other ways to help people to learn about the bridge and understand how it is constructed.

The development of the model is in the early stages at present but there are already some very interesting images and an animated video clip of the bridge that you can view on-line. Click the image of the bridge or follow this link to see the preview pages that Take 27 have set up and enjoy watching with us as the model is developed further and becomes more refined. 

To learn more about Take 27 Ltd and the kind of work they do visit their web site at www.take27.co.uk

People with connections and memories of the bridge
In partnership with the Iron Bridge Group, an award winning local television / film production company called Fusion Films will produce two unique films to document the restoration and attract prospective visitors to the Iron Bridge site by creating a wider awareness of the project.

The films will be in the form of a twenty-minute corporate documentary and an original short film drama written especially for the project by local professional scriptwriter Aidan Magrath. Aidan will be giving his services free of charge and Fusion Films have greatly reduced their fees, making a significant contribution to the match funding for the project.

For the documentary Fusion Films are keen to find people with links and connections to the Iron Bridge with interesting memories to share. Maybe you have used the bridge regularly for many years and can recall how it has changed over that time. Maybe you played there during your childhood and can tell some stories about what you got up to, or perhaps you did your courting down by the bridge and have romantic memories of those happy days! Whatever recollections you would be prepared to share we and Fusion Films will be very interested to hear from you, so please get in touch initially with Mark and Peter using

To learn more about Fusion Films visit their web site at www.fusionfilms.co.uk

3 August 2007
A kick off meeting was held on 13 July with Dew Construction (Oldham) Ltd, who were the contractor selected during the tender process back in February 2006, before the grant application was submitted. Although Dew were the chosen contractor it was not possible to award a contract to them until after the successful grant application, for obvious reasons. Now that a contract has been placed we would like to take this opportunity to say that we were very impressed with Dew's tender, which, as well as showing an excellent understanding of the technical requirements of the restoration work, demonstrated a strong
grasp of the bridge's historical significance and its importance to the local community.

Following award of the contract Jim Potts, Dew Construction's Marketing & Submissions Manager, said “Dew Construction is absolutely delighted to have been awarded the Iron Bridge Project. Having been involved in many similar projects we are aware of the impact that restoration of heritage structures such as Iron Bridge can have on all those involved with the project. Modern society tends to take civil engineering construction projects for granted and the concern shown by the local community for this historic bridge is both significant and highly commendable. We will make every effort to ensure that our contribution adds value, in every possible sense, for many years to come.”

Dew Construction have won a string of awards for heritage related project, especially in the canals, waterways and bridges arena, and we hope that they will earn similar accolades for their work on Marple's Iron Bridge. To learn a little more about Dew Construction visit their web site at www.dewconstruction.co.uk. This is currently undergoing redesign but the new version should go live during the Iron Bridge Project Restoration

Dew are expected to begin work in Brabyns Park on Monday 20 August, starting with preparatory works to the temporary access route needed to get their plant and equipment to the bridge (there will be no knocking down Scroll Bridge again, which is also expected to be underway in the same timeframe as the Iron Bridge). Following this the bridge is due to be closed during the week after Bank Holiday, and will then remain closed until the restoration works are completed.

We hope to be making regular visits to the site while the restoration is underway to take photographs and obtain updates for this diary. It is also planned to install a web cam so that visitors to the web site can see live snap shots of the work in progress, which is something we're really excited about. So keep coming back to this page and we'll do our best to keep you informed of how things are progressing.


Left to to right, Peter Clarke, Nicola Marshall (HLF Project Officer), Cllr. Dave Goddard (Leader of Stockport Council), Mark Whittaker and Ann Hearle celebrate news of the Heritage Lottery Grant