Pooley Bridge - replacement bridge project

Works to secure a replacement road link at Pooley Bridge are progressing following the successful operation in May 2020 to lift the new bridge structure into position across the River Eamont.

Cumbria County Council is delivering the project to create the first stainless steel road bridge of its kind in the country and restore connectivity in the Ullswater area.

The council had planned to open the bridge in late July, with the remaining works being completed at night-time or under a road closure during the Autumn. With the bridge open to traffic, this would have allowed local business to gain maximum benefit from the tourist summer season.

However, the COVID19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on the Pooley Bridge project.

Construction works were temporarily suspended in late March and since they resumed in April, we have experienced supply chain challenges and a reduced number of contractors are working on site to maintain social distancing and protect the public and the workforce.

We have held discussions with a wide cross section of the community and it has become apparent that the consensus view was that whilst local business may be able to open at a reduced capacity in Summer, the early Autumn is now likely to be a key trading period.

As a result, the council and its main contractor, Eric Wright Civil Engineering, are now focusing our efforts on opening the bridge as soon as possible in the Autumn. A revised method of delivery has been agreed and the bridge will remain closed until all works are complete.

The current latest planned opening date for the bridge, based on the consultation and assessing the safest way to deliver the completion of the bridge, is now late October 2020.

Pooley Bridge is open for business throughout the construction of the new permanent bridge.

Pooley Bridge was historically a fishing village. It is now a busy and vibrant place, catering for the millions of tourists who visit Cumbria every year.

Originally named 'Pooley' or 'Pool How' - meaning 'the hill beside the pool,' the 'Bridge' part of the name was added in 1800. An ancient derelict pond exists behind the Sun Inn, and the hill towering above the village is Dunmallet, the site of an ancient British hill fort.

The bridge which gave its name to the village was built in 1764. It spanned the River Eamont, which in 1764 formed part of the boundary between the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland - whose council's organised and funded the bridge's construction.

The initials of construction workers and stonemasons, together with the year 1764, were carved into the stonework of the buttresses but were sadly lost in the floods following Storm Desmond in December 2015.

History History 1

Unprecedented levels of rainfall caused extensive flooding in the Pooley Bridge area in early December 2015. On the afternoon of Sunday 6th, and without warning, the central arch of the 251 year old bridge collapsed; by the next morning the remaining portion had also been swept away.

The village was then isolated from the west bank, causing considerable disruption to residents and businesses.

In February 2016 work started to remove the stone and debris from the river using local contractors, Waitings. The salvaged bridge stone has been stored for possible future use.

Cumbria County Council commissioned Story Contracting to install a temporary modular steel bridge supplied by Mabey Hire in time for Easter. This was a complex job on a challenging timeframe but through the support and co-operation of a wide range of stakeholders the bridge was opened one week ahead of schedule.

The temporary replacement bridge was officially opened on Sunday 20 March 2016 on a gloriously sunny spring day.

On 23 March His Royal Highness Prince Charles visited the village, inspected the bridge and met the Parish Council, affected local residents, the County Council and its contractors. 

This was a tremendous boost to the morale of villagers and businesses and created very useful publicity. The village soon recovered and has been busy with visitors throughout the spring and summer.

Why Why 1 Why 2

Extensive engagement with the local community is being carried out on how the project for a permanent replacement bridge is progressing.

Regular bi-monthly meetings take place with local stakeholders to keep them up to date with the design and construction of the new Pooley Bridge and to provide an opportunity to get feedback from the local community.

The replacement bridge project at Pooley Bridge is a key part of Cumbria County Council's Flood Recovery Programme, involving repairs to hundreds of roads, slopes, bridges and other assets throughout the county damaged during the storms of Winter 2015.

The county council is committed to ensuring the new bridge will provide resilience against extreme bad weather so that the structure continues to connect communities for future generations.

Eric Wright Civil Engineering Ltd (EWCE) is the Principle Contractor for the design of the replacement bridge in partnership with GHD, and detailed design work is well under way with the majority of the steel skeleton of the structure having been designed. The remaining elements of the detailed design involve the bridge abutments and bridge deck. This is predominantly the concrete and heavy duty steel reinforcement detailing which provides the bridge with its structural strength.

EWCE are also focusing on Temporary Works - from crane lifting to excavation support systems - that will be needed to enable the permanent bridge to be built. This is an ongoing process that evolves as designs and discussions with specialist trades progress.

Replacement bridge project

Works completed - May 2020

  • One of the largest cranes in the country has been used to successfully lift the new road bridge into position at Pooley Bridge
  • The complex operation to place the country's first stainless steel road bridge across the River Eamont was completed in around three hours on Thursday 7 May.
  • Works will now continue over the coming months, including completing the steel and concrete required to form the upper road deck and new road surfacing, drainage and parapets, to finish the bridge.
  • It was scheduled to be completed and the bridge opened in June 2020. However the temporary suspension of works due to Covid-19 restrictions means the timescale for completion of the Pooley Bridge project is subject to change.

Works completed September - November 2019

  • Temporary footbridge lifted into place and road bridge removed
  • Installation of sheet pilling on both sides of the river completed.
  • Bracing inside the sheet piles has been installed.
  • Excavation to the formation level on both sides completed.
  • Construction of east side foundation has commenced with first pours of concrete and steel reinforcement placed.
  • Steel fabrication progressing well off-site
  • Pooley Bridge Project Hub has opened in the Ullswater Steamer Tourist Information and Gift Shop

Works planned for November 2019 - January 2020

  • Works will continue to construct the East abutment with the base and walls being constructed in a number of phases, time has to be allowed for the concrete to strengthen at certain points during this process.
  • Further site investigation will be completed on the west abutment and works to construct this should start. 
  • Preparation for the delivery of steel to the Dunmallard carpark will be completed, with temporary bracing being installed on foundations.
  • The first sections of steel should be delivered to site and fabrication on the bridge sections will continue in Pooley.
  • The bridge bearings will be delivered to site

Construction timeline:

November 2019 - Spring 2020

Permanent bridge, abutment works, bridge construction and installation

Construction Works have started to construct the new Pooley Bridge structure over the River Eamont which means that Dumallard car park, to the west side of the village is now closed for visitor parking.  

To compensate for the temporary loss of Dunmallard car park, Cumbria County Council have provided a temporary car park, 100 yards before the junction leaving the B5320. This provides free car parking for up to 30 vehicles. The car park also has access to the footpath, which remains open if visitors wish to walk to the village. 

Car parking is signed posted along the B5320. 

The works to rebuild the bridge have been planned in a way to minimise disruption to the local community, businesses and tourism in the area, whilst this exciting project is completed. Pooley Bridge will remain open for business throughout the construction period.