The New Pooley Bridge, located in the Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been officially opened.
The original Pooley Bridge, washed away during Storm Desmond in December 2015, was a Grade II listed 3-span stone arch, built in 1764, which served as a critical link in the daily life of the area. The shock after its abrupt removal was partially relieved by the installation of a temporary Bailey Bridge three months later, but its ongoing presence was also a daily reminder of loss and vulnerability.
The opening of the new, permanent bridge has been an emotional relief to the community reconnecting the Ullswater valley and restoring normality to the village after five very difficult years. It forms a critical link for residents and tourists as well as defining the identity for this iconic tourist village.
The project has been delivered by Cumbria County Council as the flagship project of its award-winning £120m Infrastructure Recovery Programme, which has seen it undertake more than 1,200 schemes following the devastation caused by Storm Desmond. The new structure was carefully designed by Knight Architects following an intense stakeholder engagement process, listening to the community and focusing on their common aspirations to achieve a design that fits with their sense of identity and satisfies the technical standards, robustly fulfilling the new design criteria for flooding.
The new bridge is a 40m span open-spandrel arch bridge, a modern application of a classical bridge form, well suited to the picturesque tourist destination, with a single composite flat arch formed in stainless-steel and high strength concrete supporting twin pedestrian walkways and the single carriageway road.
The New Pooley Bridge is the first road bridge in the UK to be constructed using stainless-steel. Its width varies between 7.5m and 9.5m with the widest point at the centre. The open spandrels maximise transparency along the river. A carefully designed timber and steel handrail provides a welcoming place from which to enjoy views of Ullswater and the Lake District scenery.
Knight Architects’ scope comprised the stakeholder engagement process, options analysis, concept design, and client technical guidance through the detailed design and construction stages.
David S Brown, Programme Director for the Cumbria County Council Infrastructure Recovery programme, said:
“Cumbria County Council are absolutely delighted with the new bridge! It is a fitting testament to the collaborative and innovative efforts of the entire project team, which included in-depth stakeholder engagement skilfully led by Knight Architects.
The elegant structure is deserving as an entrance to the Lake District National Park. Not only has the new bridge reconnected the Ullswater area after the destruction sown by Storm Desmond (2015) but it has reconnected the community and is an embodiment of the village and wider Cumbrian society: beautiful and resilient.
Pooley Bridge now has an iconic new crossing to be proud of and which will attract many visitors in the years to come.”
Héctor Beade Pereda, Head of Design at Knight Architects, said:
“ Ultimately the bridge couldn’t have been designed without the community. We listened and took all of the feedback onboard. It was not an easy task. Understandably, emotions ran high and by the end of the consultation period, the resounding conclusion was that the community wanted a bridge that was ‘modern, but not too modern’. We worked closely with them, and key stakeholders, throughout the development of our designs and the result of this collaboration is, we feel, a perfect balance between resilience, beauty and respect for the surroundings.
The enormous pride the community now feels about their bridge can be seen even at this early stage, through merchandise on sale locally as well as the take up for personalised pavers. We are so delighted to reach this important milestone and to have designed a bridge at the heart of this community which symbolises their own resilience and aspirations. Our hopes are that the new bridge will help to boost the local economy and become a tourist attraction in its own right, situated as it is in the beautiful Lakeland landscape. We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone next year.”