The winners of the 2013 Historic Bridge & Infrastructure Awards were announced earlier this month. David Greenfield explains why the awards are so important.
Having seen a number of inappropriate and expensive modifications made to several important historic bridges in the early 1990s, the ICE Panel for Historical Engineering Works felt that the incentive of a prestigious, well-pub
icised award scheme would encourage engineers to produce high quality, innovative projects for repairing and strengthening bridges.
Those awards continue to this day, with support from English Heritage, Network Rail, the Canal & River Trust and the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport, and now include all transport-related engineering projects, including station roofs, retaining walls, tunnels and canal locks.
The great majority of submissions over the years have involved “traditional” civil engineering, and the judges have been delighted at the high standards of planning, design and execution apparent in the projects - not just the high profile, iconic structures, but also the relatively small jobs that restore a neighbourhood’s pride in a piece of local engineering heritage. They have followed with great interest developments in the application of new materials, for example carbon fibre for strengthening cast iron bridges and concrete bridges.
There have also been innovative techniques such as directional drilling, and the use of curved longitudinal pre-stressing to counteract a sideways tilt in a seven span masonry aqueduct. More controversially, awards have been given to “phantom strengthening” projects, where bridges that had been previously assessed to be sub-standard using conventional analysis were reassessed using powerful analytical techniques that improved the assessed capacity to full highway loading, so no intervention was required.
This year’s awards demonstrate once again the added value and public relations benefits to be gained by involving the local community, and by applying innovative and appropriate techniques, when restoring a piece of working civil engineering heritage.
- David Greenfield is the technical secretary for the Historic Bridges & Infrastructure Awards
Commendation: Kings Cross Station footbridge relocation, Ropley, Hampshire
Client: The Mid Hants Railway
Architect: Hurrell Architecture
Structural engineer: Paul Tanner
Judges’ comments: One of the largest volunteer-led bridge relocation projects ever undertaken has provided a new, functional future for a historic but redundant structure.
Commendation: Chester Station footbridge refurbishment
Client: Network Rail
Architect: Network Rail
Main contractor: J Murphy & Sons
Judges’ comments: A sympathetically executed project that successfully combined traditional conservation techniques with contemporary cladding and finishes, to produce an attractive and welcoming environment.
Special mention: Stoneleigh Abbey landscape park restoration, Warwickshire
Client: Stoneleigh Abbey
Lead designer: PJM Associates
Structural engineer: Mann Williams
Main contractor: JGJ Williams
Specialist subcontractor: Tema Protective Coatings
Judges’ comments: A sensitively executed programme of work to repair, conserve, renovate and restore important structural elements of the historic landscape.
Award: Bridgwater West Quay restoration, Somerset
Client: Somerset County Council
Designer and works supervisor: Somerset County Council
Structural engineer: Mann Williams
Main contractor: Crestmoor Construction Services
Judges’ comments: Civil engineering emergency response at its finest. Rapidly conceived and executed innovative solutions resulted in the economical and effective restoration of crucial “working heritage” infrastructure.
Award: Tynemouth Station restoration
Client: Station Developments
Structural engineer: Ramboll UK
Ironwork contractor: Eura Conservation
Main contractor: Mansell Construction Services
Architect: Hodder Associates, Latham Architects
Judges comments: Sympathetic restoration has transformed a derelict, dangerous and “at-risk” landmark heritage site into a stunning, community-friendly venue.
Award: Rothbury Bridge strengthening, Northumberland
Client: Northumberland County Council
Project management and design: Northumberland County Council
Main contractor: Northumberland County Council
Judges’ comments: Traditional techniques and an innovative use of modern materials have been skilfully combined to complement and enhance the character of the old bridge rather than overshadow it.