Ludlow's damaged Ludford Bridge reopening today
Ludlow's Ludford Bridge was reopening to traffic this afternon following repair work after a lorry hit the bridge towards the end of February.
Work on the bridge has had to be carried out in accordance with strict guidelines as it is a scheduled ancient monument and Grade I listed.
A large hole was knocked in the side wall of the medieval bridge by a reversing lorry in February, taking more masonry from down the side of the structure with it and into the River Teme below.
A mix of retrieved stone and new stone has been used to rebuild the bridge using traditional methods with lime mortar, which needs temperatures of above 6C to set.
The finishing touches are now being applied, according to Shropshire Council.
Gareth Proffitt, spokesman for Shropshire Council, said: "Works are progressing well with the reconstruction of the parapet and installation of the new coping stones.
The bridge dates from the 15th Century and is the site of the 'Battle of Ludford Bridge' in 1459 during the Wars of the Roses.
Simon Jones, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "Ludford Bridge will be open in under 11 weeks following the accident, which is a fantastic achievement and great news for Ludlow's residents and businesses.
"From a standing start we have had to carry out work on a Scheduled Ancient Monument – work that requires approval from the Secretary of State; have had to source the right stone and get that approved; and have had to get masons with the necessary skill sets to do the work, using sensitive techniques at a time of year where that can be difficult – which is quite remarkable. In usual circumstances it can take up to 13 weeks just to get the Secretary of State's approval to carry out such work.
"Well done to everyone involved with this project, I'm really pleased and impressed with the way everyone has pulled together."
Vivienne Parry, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow South, said: "I want to say thank you and well done to the staff who worked to get this bridge open again in this amount of time, and thank you to Ludlow's businesses and residents for their patience while the job was being done."
Care was taken to select stone from Shropshire quarries through local stone suppliers, and Ringway also engaged the Shropshire-based expert stone mason Paul Arrowsmith to undertake the repairs. This ensured that the repairs were carried out using the correct traditional craft skills and appropriate materials. It also meant that the money spent on the repairs has been reinvested in the local economy, helping to sustain these heritage skills and materials for the future.
The news has come as a relief to businesses in the town, particularly around the bridge itself, which have suffered a loss of passing trade.
It was originally hoped the work would be finished by the end of April, ready for the May bank holiday weekend when Ludlow town centre is filled with fairground rides as an annual tradition.
But it became clear the deadline would not be met a week prior to the May Fair.
Cedric Bosi, who runs the Charlton Arms Hotel next to the bridge, said its closure over the busy weekend predictably led to a loss of trade for some.
But it is now reopening in time for the Ludlow Spring Festival at Ludlow Castle, a major food and drink event incorporating the Marches Transport Festival, with thousands of visitors expected along with hundreds of vintage vehicles.
He said: "The bank holiday was not as busy as it usually is for us, and it was the same issue as it has been, it was the passing trade that we lost.
"If they will open it before the spring festival, that would be great.
"Now we just need to keep out fingers crossed it will open by the 13th and we can get back what we lost."
"But overall we are very pleased to see the scaffolding has come down.
"I think it would be nice to organise a bridge party to celebrate the reopening of it," he added.
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