Local Community > Local Issues

Roman Bridge

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How strange. I can't see what there is to object to.  And as I'm away at the moment, I can't go along to the meeting to find out.

I have just been informed by a member of the Mellor Heritage Group that there is a council meeting at Marple Library this evening at 18:00. Amongst the items on the agenda is;

A report on objections received to the proposed revocation of the Order preventing dismounted horses and cyclists using Roman Bridge.

Unfortunately I cannot make it but it might be on interest if anyone has the time.

Thanks for sharing with us that interesting background inforrmation, Tiggy.  It has obviously been a long and difficult process of negotiation, but it's good that we have an eventual outcome which restores the bridge to its original use, and which also preserves its attractive structure and appearance.   As you say, common sense at last!    :)

Gillian MCS:
I used Roman Bridge regularly on horseback for 10 years prior to its closure in 1977. After 32 years and a belt and braces assessment by SMBC they are planning to lift the TRO restriction to allow horses to use the bridge again. To get to this point the journey has been long and tortuous and every aspect of strength and safety has been thoroughly analysed by experts. These are the facts:
• 2002 – Public enquiry rules the Roman Bridge is a bridleway
• 2007 – SMBC under court order to reopen Roman Bridge to horses within 2 years
• 2008 – The following experts testify that ancient structures do not have to comply with present day guidelines and
             dimensions in order to open them to the public:
             The Highways Agency (HA), The British Horse Society (BHS), Byways and Bridleways Trust (BBT),    
             English Heritage (EH), National Federation of Bridleways Association (NFBA).
• 2008 – Structural survey carried out by Giffords Engineering Consultancy who are recognised national experts in single span Masonry
            Arch Bridges. They have issued a certificate stating that Roman Bridge is strong enough for horses.
• 2008 – BBT state that there are no recorded accidents involving horses on this or any other packhorse bridge in the country of which
            many are bridleways and still used by horses
• 2008 - BHS testify that Roman Bridge is suitable for horses to use from a safety aspect

In a nutshell, the evidence fulfils the criteria for what English Heritage refers to as the ‘fit for purpose’ principle. Therefore, without any alterations, there are no grounds for keeping the bridge closed any longer. At last, common sense prevails.

I asked a Rights of Way officer at SMBC whether the handrails on the bridge would have to be replaced by a higher rail or parapet, to meet with the requirements for bridleway bridges, and I received the following reply:

'All cyclists and equestrians MUST dismount before crossing Roman Bridge as agreed by all the working parties during discussions. That was the final recommendation made which makes any height adjustments irrelevant given the heritage status of the bridge. Only a single led horse can cross the bridge at a time.'

So that's OK then, and as you say, Mark, a great result.    :)


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