Local businesses will understandably wish to investigate what remedies may be available to them to recoup losses which they may incur through the closure. The County Council is not able to issue legal advice to individuals or businesses directly but will endeavour to assist enquirers to identify possible sources of independent advice. Those affected may wish to consider joining with others in a like situation to establish what remedies are available to them.
The insurance contact details of the vehicle which caused the damage are given below in the event that persons wish to make contact to discuss whether an insurance claim may be possible in their particular circumstances:
Insurance Company: N.I.G
Claims Case Ref. Number: 028698496
NIG Commercial Claims (Gloucester)
PO Box 1151
Tel. 01452 899777
“Bidford bridge dates from the early 15th century. In 1449 it was found to be very much decayed and John Carpenter, Bishop of Worcester, offered a year’s Indulgence to all who should contribute to its repair. (fn. 4) It consists of eight arches of about 13½-ft. span, with piers of about 8¼ ft. The cutwaters remain on the east side but have been removed on the west, and the whole shows signs of frequent repair. The northernmost, second, sixth, and seventh arches are original and are segmental-pointed or four-centred, formed by two rings of square voussoirs; the medieval masonry above them is of rubble work and fairly large squared stones in courses.
Leland in 1545 found that the bridge had been repaired with stone from the recently demolished priory at Alcester. (fn. 5) The masonry above the low round arch of the fifth bay has the alternating wide and narrow courses common in this district in the 16th century. There may originally have been nine or ten arches, for it was alleged in 1639 ‘that there is a necessity that there shall be two or three arches newly erected at the south end of the said bridge where it plainly appeareth arches have formerly been, but are now utterly demolished and decayed, without which the main bridge will be of little or no use at all at the time of any flood’. (fn. 6) Considerable repairs were carried out in 1641 at a cost of £180, (fn. 7) and perhaps the southernmost arch dates from this time. This, which is similar to the third, is segmental-pointed, like the 15th-century arches, but with long thin rough voussoirs.
In June 1644 Charles I broke down the bridge to cover his rear in his march from Worcester back to Oxford. (fn. 8) This damage was not repaired until 1650. (fn. 9) It was probably the fourth arch that was destroyed; this is round-headed and much higher than all the others, possibly to admit the passage of boats plying between Stratford and Gloucester. (fn. 10) The fifth arch, also round-headed, may have been repaired at the same time. The cutwaters between arches one, two, and three, and between six and seven are of coursed squared stones; those in the middle have been repaired with thin rubble work, brick, &c., and the southernmost is wholly of brick. Between the old north arches on the west side are indications of the cutwaters and between the old southern arches they are cut back to form shallow buttresses. Over the pier between bays five and six a little of the original canted parapet is retained on the west side, but apart from this the parapets are modern.”
How much has the repair works cost?
The County Council’s earliest estimate for the works cost relating to the structural damage, caused by the incident on 9th June was approximately £300,000.
In line with our estimate of 4 to 6 months from point of incident, the project has required the extensive use of resources and staff time, undertaking the necessary operations to safely manage and maintain both the highways network and river Avon, as both a proactive and reactive service from start to finish.
The structural repairs, management of the extensive diversion route, officers’ staff time accrued and operations in and around the river level and on the highways network accounts for approximately £450,000.
Why is the road shut?
Insufficient space for a safe working area and for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the bridge prevents the road being open to vehicles. The bridge is not wide enough to provide temporary vehicle restraint barriers and undertake the repairs at the same time.
Why have you not provided a floating pontoon?
A pontoon bridge would serve pedestrians only, and not provide vehicular access. Following incident on 9th June, the bridge has provided pedestrian access throughout. A pontoon bridge would cost a considerable amount of money, and also lead to closure of the River Avon, where as access to the vessels on the River has also been safeguarded through our management of the water course.
Why have you not provided a bailey bridge or temporary structure?
The location of the bridge and its length /span of the River Avon prevent the use of a bailey bridge – the locations for landing a structure of this nature are prevented by the buildings in close proximity, on the High-Street approach. This form of structure would also put significant cost on top of what is already an expensive form of repair in the making.
Will the bridge be closed to pedestrians and cyclists?
The works are being designed to consider access across the bridge to Honeybourne Rd and Meadow Park by pedestrians from the village throughout. Small, isolated closures may be required when materials and equipment are moved about at carriageway level. To date, our workforce have escorted members of the public across the bridge at convenient intervals.
How long will the road be shut for?
It has been estimated that the bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic between four and six months, from point of incident. This suggests the bridge may be re-opened in October but may take until the end of the calendar year. The team are working to complete works as soon as possible. There are a number of factors driving the repair programme, and these include the weather and its effect on progress, the temperature and its effect on the repair materials, the level of the River Avon and the possibility of flooding, the length of the diversion route and its effect on commuters. Until completion of the scaffold for further assessment by the stonemasons has been provided, a programme for re-building the cut-water and parapet cannot be defined. As soon as a realistic date can be determined, a revision of the dates will be shared with you.
Do I qualify for compensation considering diversion route?
Please read the information provided on the adjacent ‘Support’ tab. Contact details for the insurance company involved in the incident are provided. Their representative will discuss with you potential claims in the making, however, parties effected by the closure must engage the insurance company direct, and not WCC, in order to register their details.
Is the bridge being rebuilt ‘like for like’?
It is our intention to repair the incident damage, as close as possible to its former appearance. Stone retrieved from the river and collected from the carriageway will lend itself to the rebuild, and new stone has been sought to replace that beyond repair. Working with Historic England, the team intend to use approved ‘hidden reinforcement detail’ to stitch and tie the repairs back to the pier and fill to the rear of the cut-water face.
Can I park near to the bridge?
Parking arrangements are in place for both Honeybourne Rd and Bidford-on-Avon village centre in close proximity to the river crossing. Their locations are highlighted on the map made available on this web-site. Businesses are open as usual, and members of the public are encouraged to visit and utilise the High Street, Bidford’s weekly ‘Car-boot’, and general amenities as normal.
Is the bridge open to cyclists?
The bridge is open to cyclists are they are requested to dismounted before crossing. However, motorcyclists should follow the diversion route at this time.
Other factors on site.
A significant number of ‘dog-walkers’ cross the bridge on a daily basis. It is your duty as a ‘dog-owner’ to pick up after your animal(s). Please consider those around you, as young children cross the bridge too.
What are the Council doing to prevent these types of incident in the future?
As well as managing the repairs at this time, a task-group has been set the challenge of assessing the options available to safe-guard the river bridge where possible. This will naturally include short and long term solutions. You may have considered a ‘width-restriction’ as an ideal answer, but have you thought about the implications this would have on the emergency services and public transport that use the bridge on a daily basis? The group will identify, assess and make recommendations, before engaging local representatives.