Swing bridge overhaul almost completed

Andrew Wood and John Smith, county council engineers, with local member County Councillor Joe Plant.
Andrew Wood and John Smith, county council engineers, with local member County Councillor Joe Plant.

A quarter of a million pound overhaul of Whitby’s historic swing bridge is nearing completion despite setbacks caused by extreme weather.

North Yorkshire County Council has undertaken a programme of works to restore its appearance and reduce the likelihood of breakdowns following a controversial period.

Most notably was the summer of 2010 where the bridge was stuck in the open position for nine days due to a mechanical fault and shuttle buses were drafted in to ferry people around the town.

Since then there have been numerous mechanical failures and periods of closure for maintenance works and emergency repairs which have caused issues for residents and businesses wanting to move between the east and west sides of town.

The recent works which started before Christmas have included replacement of the timber fenders and repairs to the timber ‘dolphins’ which protect the east and west piers of the bridge in the river; the creation of footways on the dolphins which will enable the bridge to be maintained more easily; waterproofing of electric cabling and the raising of electrical junction boxes onto the underside of the bridge above the waterline to prevent breakdown of the bridge mechanisms.

More noticeably is a re-painting of the bridge in red and white and the computer technology used to operate the swing bridge has been updated. It means that faults can be tracked and located precisely and quicker in order to prevent failure and speed up repairs.

The work was expected to be completed by now but the extreme cold temperatures and prolonged periods of snow have meant some of this has had to be put on hold.

Painting of the underside of the main beams and an upgrade of the navigation lights have been postponed until later in April after the busy Easter school holiday period.

From April 15 to 26, barring the weekend, the bridge will be closed between midnight and 6am to allow the work to be completed.

County Coun Joe Plant said: “Whitby is one of the country’s major centres of tourism and is proud of its historic bridge which connects the north and south sides of the town at its centre. This upgrade will ensure the bridge remains in good condition into the future. The works can be completed in April with minimum disruption.”