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Published on : Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Over 400 members of the public braved the heavy rain on Sunday to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to walk across the iconic Royal Albert Bridge in celebration of its refurbishment by Network Rail.
The Royal Albert Bridge remains the only bridge of its kind still in existence and provides a vital rail link between Cornwall and the rest of Britain.
The walk, organised by Network Rail, the Saltash Rail Users’ Group and the Ashtorre Rock charity, was to mark the completion of the five-year project to return the 156-year-old structure to its former glory, by enabling residents to see its intricate design and magnitude close-up.
Tim Maddocks, who organised the walk on behalf of Network Rail, said: “This is a significant moment in the bridge’s history and followed years of work to turn it back into the structure that Brunel himself would have experienced over 150 years ago.
“This iconic bridge has been part of the local community for all these years and so it seemed only right that we shared this moment with them by giving residents the opportunity to walk in Brunel’s shoes.”
The extensive work carried out by Network Rail to refurbish the bridge involved cleaning the structure by grit blasting the metalwork; repainting a total area of 20,000 square metres, which equates to the size of about three football pitches; and repairing and replacing worn-out parts of the bridge, including all the hangers and track girders.
Tim continued: “It was great to hear the positive comments from walkers, many of whom remarked on how much better the bridge looks now. They were also interested in how we had worked with English Heritage to ensure our refurbishment was in keeping with the original structure.”
During the walk participants were also treated to an appearance from a Brunel impersonator, who posed with walkers for photographs, and music from the local charity ‘4Flutes’.
Richard Bickford from the Saltash Rail Users’ Group, said: “It was a fabulous morning, so many smiles and happy faces, despite the British weather.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers who helped make this event happen, and a special thanks goes to Network Rail for allowing us to have this opportunity in the first place.
“We look forward to seeing this special bridge carry rail traffic for years to come, and Network Rail should be very proud of the work that has been carried out.”
Lynn Marsh, chair of Ashtorre Rock charity, said: “We were pleased to play our part in enabling the walk to take place. We appreciate the patience and co-operation of all the walkers, many of whom have already expressed their thanks.
“Our special thanks go to the many volunteers at Ashtorre Rock, the stewards, Saltash Fire Cadets and Saltash Lions. We would also like to thank the Tamar Road Bridge authority for providing the return transport.”
Source:- Network Rail