Efforts to keep Durham looking its best are set to help protect one of its oldest landmarks.
Over the summer work has been underway to power wash and repair public spaces including the Market Place and Millennium Place.
And overnight this week the newly renovated Elvet Bridge is to be made spick and span with a protective coating added to keep the natural stone looking great, prevent staining and make future maintenance easier.
Cllr Brian Stephens, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, said:
“We know both how proud local people are of Durham and that our city welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world every year, so it’s incredibly important that it looks as good as it possibly can.”
As part of Durham County Council’s £1.84m investment in roads and footpaths in the city centre over a two year period engineers recently completed a first phase of works to restore the Grade 1 listed scheduled ancient monument with iconic views of Durham Cathedral and the River Wear.
Parts of Old Elvet Bridge in Durham date back to the 12th century, but enhancements made in the 1970s had begun to deteriorate.
Cllr Stephens said:
“Old Elvet Bridge is an important part of the historic fabric of Durham and nearly every visitor to the heart of the city will spend some time on or near it.
“The work we have done has significantly improved its appearance, made the bridge safer and more accessible, and will ensure it is safeguarded for future generations.”
Work to build the mediaeval masonry arch bridge began in around 1160, though only one late 12th century arch survives. Much of the bridge is early 13th century, though the central three arches were renewed after flooding in 1771 and its north side was doubled in width in 1804.
The bridge and the area beyond it towards Saddler Street were enhanced in the mid 1970’s using high quality natural materials including York stone slabs, sandstone setts and smooth wheeler slabs as vehicle running tracks.
However, while that may have been attractive when originally laid, after more than 40 years deterioration had occurred.
Durham County Council has now carried out work to waterproof the bridge deck, realign and replace worn and broken paving, and create loading bays on the approaches to the bridge, with wider areas for pedestrians that are also robust enough to deal with emergency and delivery vehicle access.
Where possible the council’s engineers reused existing paving slabs, adding in modern equivalents where the stone was damaged beyond repair.
Work to clean the bridge and install the new protective covering began on Tuesday August 7, with some pedestrian and local traffic restrictions in place overnight for up to seven days.
Once complete, Durham County Council will then move on to clean the Magdalene Steps, at the junction with Saddler Street, then part of Saddler Street itself.