Divers stabilise Wharfe bridge

Updated 18 July

North Yorkshire County Council has secured Environment Agency approval for preliminary work to start next week


Divers working on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council have managed to put sandbags into position around a damaged support to the bridge which was threatening its collapse. Subsequent inspections reveal no further movement in the structure. A survey of the river bed has now been commissioned and once completed it will enable engineers to design a suitable repair and how the damaged pier might be resecured. Whilt it would be preferable to do any repairs in Summer when rainfall is lower, the river more shallow and currents more favorable, work cannot commence until the repair is designed, costed and tenders and contracts completed.

East Keswick Parish Council has been given access to an engineers report on the problem surrounding Wood Hall bridge which straddles the River Wharfe at the boundary between West and North Yorkshire, East Keswick and Sicklinghall.

The bridge was built in 1868 and carries perdestrians and horse riders and is a very popular route for walkers from the village and from the wider Leeds area who enjoy a country ramble across the meadows to Sicklinghall and Wood Hall.

The bridge is supported by two cross braced steel latice tressles in the river and two stone piers. One of the tressles has been damaged by debris carried down stream including two large and presumably heavy tree trunks. This has rotated one of the piers and consequently caused the decking and the ballustrade on one side to distort. At one point, a top flange which normally has no gap is significantly separated. The cause is likely to be that the left tressle downstream leg has dropped by as much as a foot, the whole footing is thought to have been scoured out by four feet or more and the holding down bolts are thought to have sheared.

The work to repair the foundations and the bridge are likely to begin in October and take eight weeks to complete.

The summary of all this is that the bridge is likely to be unusable until Christmas which will be a big disappointment to the many walkers using it. East Keswick Parish Council will follow the developments closely, recognising that this is a much valued village amenity.