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4 June 2015, 17:22 | Updated: 4 June 2015, 17:30
Members of the public are invited to take part in a rare opportunity to walk across the iconic Royal Albert Bridge following the completion of work to return the 150-year-old structure to its former glory.
The walk, organised by Network Rail, the Ashtorres Brunel Bridge Celebrations of Saltash, and the Saltash Rail Users’ Group, is to celebrate the completion of the five-year project to refurbish the bridge, which remains the only one of its kind still in existence and provides a vital rail link between Cornwall and the rest of Britain.
The extensive work 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 Maddocks, who organised the walk on behalf of Network Rail, said:
“This project was a huge undertaking that was made even more complicated by the intricate design of the bridge and the need to work around the weather. The completion of its refurbishment is a significant moment in the bridge’s history and so it seems only right that we share this with the local community by providing them with the chance to walk in Brunel’s shoes.
Like Brunel, who crossed the completed bridge four months before he died, they will be able to experience its magnitude and design close-up, as well as appreciate the stunning views. Now, more than ever, it resembles the bridge that Brunel himself would have experienced over 150 years ago.”
The walk will start at the Saltash station end of the bridge on the morning of Sunday 12 July and will finish at the St Budeaux end, covering a distance of approximately one mile. The walkers will then be invited to make their way back to Saltash via the public footpath on the Tamar road bridge.
Lynn Marsh, chair of Ashtorre Rock, said:
"Ashtorre Rock is pleased to be part of the organisation of the Royal Albert Bridge walk, giving the public a unique opportunity to view this iconic and much loved structure at close quarters.
To enhance the experience, there will be an opportunity to take photographs and perhaps meet a surprise guest. We hope ticket holders will also join fellow walkers for breakfast, directly below the bridge at Ashtorre Rock on Saltash's waterside. A free souvenir scroll and exhibition will also be at Ashtorre Rock."
Richard Bickford from the Saltash Rail Users’ Group, said:
“The Royal Albert Bridge is such an important part of the lives of many in Saltash. It dominates our views, provides a vital means of transport, and gives us important links to our industrial heritage and Brunel’s genius.
The local community has watched the bridge being transformed over the last few years, and it has been reborn in an almost original form and looks absolutely fantastic. We are very pleased Network Rail has allowed a further walk to celebrate this work.”
Further information about the Royal Albert Bridge walk can be found HERE where you can also register their interest to attend. Places are limited and will be granted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.