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04 July 2017

Bell Bridge replacement works to commence Monday 17 July

Cumbria County Council is pleased to confirm that works to replace Bell Bridge at Sebergham will commence on Monday 17 July.  The bridge was completely destroyed following Storm Desmond. The reconstruction of Bell Bridge will allow the council to restore the road over the River Caldew to reconnect communities separated by the flood. 

The council has appointed Carlisle-based Story Contracting to design and construct the works, with an intended completion date of November 2017. Works were planned to start in June, but were delayed due to the requirement for Electricity North West to divert overhead cables to make the site safe for vehicles and workers. 

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said:

“I am delighted to confirm that a programme of works has now been agreed and that construction of a replacement bridge will soon commence.  The loss of Bell Bridge had a significant impact on the local community and I’d like to thank them for their patience and understanding during this period. I’d also like to thank the engineers and officers from both the council and Story for their hard work in what is a tricky and complex set of plans - their skills and knowledge have been vital to finalising the design and construction programme for the new bridge.”

John Slee, Project Manager from Story Contracting, said:

“As a locally based contractor we are delighted to have developed an authentic looking solution to restore this important landmark, and we’re hugely grateful for the cooperation of local residents and stakeholders. We look forward to commencing the construction works for completion later this year.”

The council has continued to assess the options for a replacement of Bell Lonning since the ground investigation works revealed that the original plan to install a sheet pile wall to stabilise the bank was not feasible. An alternative solution to divert the road is being progressed and the council is now in discussion with the owner of the adjacent land about rerouting the road. The intention is to complete Bell Lonning within the same programme of works as the bridge, with both completed in November 2017.

Previously, Bell Bridge was a single-span hump-back arch, under a solid parapet with chamfered coping.  This was constructed in 1772 and replaced the original Bell Bridge which was destroyed by a flood in 1771. The bridge was named after the Bell Family of the nearby Bell-bridge Farm. 

The new bridge will be formed in weathered steel beams with masonry-clad reinforced concrete abutments and parapet walls, making the new bridge look as similar as possible to the original but ensuring resilience to any future flood events. It is intended that as much of the original stone as possible will be used to face the new bridge.

Details for interpretive boards which will be erected around both work sites (Bell Bridge and Bell Lonning) are currently being finalised.  These will provide the public with a greater level of detail regarding the proposed works. Cumbria County Council and Story have worked closely with the Parish Council and local county councillor Duncan Fairburn to ensure the final solution is appropriate and meets the expectations of the local community.  

Construction works will require significant heavy plant machinery and vehicle movement on and around the site.  Therefore we ask the local community to be aware and maintain a safe distance from the site, obey the relevant footpath closure notices, signage and information from marshals who will be on site throughout the works.  The safety of the workforce and local community is of paramount importance.

The works to reinstate Bell Bridge form part of a wider programme of repairs to bridges all over Cumbria.  Stephen Hall, Assistant Director for Highways and Transport at Cumbria County Council, said:

“This is one of the most significant projects in this year’s bridge work programme that will see over 300 bridges receiving varying levels of repair after damage sustained during Strom Desmond in December 2015. This large programme of bridge repair comes on top of the 130+ bridges already repaired and is making for an extremely busy year for Cumbria County Council’s Highway Service and our contractors.”

Cumbria County Council would like to thank the local community for their patience and understanding whilst this programme of work has been agreed.  We now look forward to commencing works in July and to re-opening Bell Bridge and Bell Lonning following the proposed completion in November.


Cumbria County Council is pleased to confirm that works to replace Bell Bridge at Sebergham will commence on Monday 17 July.