Save Our Bridge!
Save Our Bridge!
Boxted Bridge, built in 1897 by George Double (1840-1916), piers and bridges contractor, lies in the centre of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The surrounding fields are water meadows, where cattle and sheep graze and cricket bat plantations thrive. The bridge is an important heritage feature of the village and well loved; it is known locally as 'The Green Bridge'. In the 1930s the views from Boxted bridge inspired many paintings by both Sir Alfred Munnings and John Nash.
By 1992 Boxted bridge was showing signs of neglect. The bridge was assessed by Essex County Council that year and the report found the deck to have a live load capacity of 3 Tonnes: but no weight restriction was thought necessary; and indeed for the next 28 years traffic continued to drive over it, including latterly some massive HGVs with trailers. An Options Study was done in 2018 but recommendations to carry out further feasibility studies on three of the options using the current footprint of the bridge were not acted upon. However in March 2020 Highways' decided to proceed with Option 7B, an unrecommended opton, at an unminuted meeting. Essex Highways has completed their investigation work on the bridge and is now planning to replace the bridge altogether and build a 40 tonne bridge on a wider footprint capable of HGVs making the turn over the bridge onto Sky Hall Hill more easily, an option that their own Options Study said in a list of disadvantages would: 'urbanize a section of the AONB', that 'carriageway widening/improvements on Wick Road' might have to be carried out, that did not take into account of our 'sub standard structures', (smaller bridges over streams near the bridge). This option costs the most, £900,000-1000,000, and would have the most carbon footprint. Highways' intend to submit a planning application for this proposal on 26 November 2021.
We believe the bridge can be repaired and saved for the community and should not be replaced with a wider uglier version which would mean that more HGVs use this route through an Area of Outstanding natural Beauty. At present vehicles the same size as a fire engine, and larger, can already, with care, negotiate the turn over the bridge into Sky Hall Hill. The three approach roads to the bridge are not suitable for HGVs being single lane with passing places. The two new 'Not Suitable for HGV' signs at Whalebone corner and Wick road/ B1068 have been remarkably successful in discouraging further HGVs. We believe an 'Environmental Limits' sign would deter large HGVs but still allow the essential farm traffic vehicles access over the bridge. The proposed scheme for a new larger bridge is overkill.
You can read more in the Updates about the achievements of George Double, builder of Boxted Bridge, who worked for the eminent engineer John Dixon (1835-1891), building Llandudno Pier (1877), raising Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment (1878), manager during the construction of Hammersmith Suspension Bridge (1887), building the new pier head and landing stage on Clevedon Pier (1892), and much more!