Battle over crash bridge

NBENLM110228A2 - Ambergate Bridge protest. Local residents want the council to save the bridge on the A610 at Ambergate
NBENLM110228A2 - Ambergate Bridge protest. Local residents want the council to save the bridge on the A610 at Ambergate

plans which may see an historic bridge demolished in Sawmills have sparked fierce opposition from a civic society, which says it should be saved and money spent on road safety measures instead.

Since 1988, around 22 lorries have hit the disused railway bridge over the A610 between Ambergate and Ripley, and Derbyshire County Council has now begun a survey to decide if the 250-tonne bridge should be demolished or raised in height.

The council says it “counts itself fortunate the bridge has not caused a death so far”, but members of the Bullbridge and Sawmills Area Civic Society (BASA) say the £150,000 cost of demolition is unnecessary and is “begging” the council for a pedestrian crossing.

Secretary Gill Hurst said: “We are actively campaigning to save this historic bridge and have it adopted as a continuation of the Ripley Greenway, thus offering a safe crossing for multi-user use, including wildlife. We also believe that improved signage would ensure high-sided lorries did not continue along the A610. It almost feels like a fait accompli. We want time for discussion – it seems like an awful lot of money without consultation.”

Group chairman Freda Raphael said the A610 through Ladygrove, Sawmills and Riversdale had become busier each year. She said: “Safety concerns should be directed towards residents, not passing traffic.”

BASA says it is trying to save what’s left of the area’s industrial heritage, which it describe as “a microcosm of transport history with river, turnpike road, railway and canal all piled one on top of the other in the narrow Amber Valley.” But council officers say the steel and concrete bridge, opened in 1875 and shut in 1968, is of minor historical value. A council spokeswoman promised a full consultation.