Like many badly constructed Milennium projects up and down the country, Carlisle’s ill reckoned Irishgate bridge has been closed as unsafe only 11 years after being built.
The carbuncle of a bridge, which has been found to have metal fatigue caused by water corrosion of the supporting cables; will now need thousands of pounds of repairs, to be made safe again.
The bridge spans the old castle wall at one of the medieval gates known as “Irishgate” over the dual carriageway which cuts an ugly scar seperating the Castle from the town. It was built with a £650,000 grant from the Lottery Commission.
Plagued with problems since day one, the bridge’s two disabled access lifts haven’t worked in years after being vandalised. Whilst more recently two unfortunate Yank tourists got themselves stuck in them, prompting emergency service rescue.
Nobody wanted it, at least not in the current hideous form it was built in. A huge white elephant shaped like a bow and arrow, between two sections of wall.
The architect : Newcastle-based Jane Derbyshire and David Kendall Partnership designed it, admitting that their complete lack of inspiration came from the thought of some medieval archer firing an arrow from the Castle wall. Synonomous with the area? You decide.
They should have gone for a sandstone bridge keeping in character with the Castle wall, at least giving the appearance of rejoining up the Castle wall walk (Another planning disaster when they knocked down portions of the wall to route the dual carriageway).
Chester’s Castle wall walk which is still intact and snakes around the city centre, is a massive tourist draw to the city. Clearly they thought enough of their heritage to preserve it.
Spaceman says : pull the bridge down, bill the original builders, flog the architects and then sell the scrap.
Ps. For more bridge follies, see the saga of the old Waverley Railbridge which has stood for 200 years and crosses the River Eden near the new Western bypass. Ramblers have been campaigning to have it opened up to walkers for years. Rail Network put up huge ugly steelgates either end to keep people off of it for health and safety reasons. The issue? Who should pay for its upkeep if it is reopened : The Rail Network or the City Council – neither can agree.