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Controversial Tintagel Castle bridge receives record donation

Tintagel bridge

A £2.5M private donation has been made to English Heritage for the construction of the controversial Tintagel bridge in Cornwall.

The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust has provided a grant to cover half of the £5M programme of works, which also includes the construction of footpaths around the site of the footbridge. It is the largest single donation English Heritage has ever received.  

English Heritage had already secured full funding for the project, adding that the donation will enable it to invest more of its own funds towards “the protection and conservation of historic sites throughout Cornwall and beyond”.

The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust supports initiatives related to arts, children, culture, health, mental health and science and has provided more than 220 grants totalling more than £185M. 

The proposal to build the footbridge has previously attracted controversy with former Institution of Structural Engineers president John Roberts accusing its designers of presenting a “false” description of its structure to win the design competition.

Roberts claimed that the final designs submitted for the bridge proved that it is actually a single span with pinned movement joint, not two separate cantilevered structures as claimed in the design phase. However engineers behind the bridge disputed the claims and stuck by by their plans.

Julia and Hans Rausing said: “It is a pleasure to support English Heritage and Tintagel Castle. The new footbridge is a great feat of design, fitting into the landscape, and providing new views of the site’s architecture, while improving access for many visitors.”

Designed by Ney & Partners engineers and William Matthews Associates Architectural Practice, the new footbridge will be set 57m above sea level.

According to planning documents, the bridge will comprise two independent cantilevers. Each cantilever will reach 33m across the 66m gap. Each structure is made up of two welded plate box girders around 250mm deep by 140mm wide for the top chords the bottom chord divides into two as it springs from the support. It will be 4.4m deep at the root, tapering to a 170mm deep beam approximately 20m from the support.

Tintagel Castle hosts almost 250,000 visitors each year and so the new footbridge is expected to help to reduce congestion at the site. At present visitors access the castle via a series of steep steps and paths.

Work to construct the bridge began in October 2018 and is due to be completed in the summer of 2019. Tintagel Castle has been closed to the public throughout the build.

In October 2018 a cable crane was installed at the site, so that contractors to lift equipment into place and build foundations without using scaffolding. A series of geotechnical investigations ahead of this work was also conducted, to ensure rock on the cliff sides could support the structure.

By the time the cable crane was in place, work on fabricating the steel sections of the bridge had begun offsite. These pre-fabricated steel sections will be brought to site in spring 2019 and slotted into position.

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