The Black Bridge

black bridge img31There has been a bridge on the site of the Black Bridge, also known as the Bailey Bridge, for over 100 years. The map of 1889 shows a Black Bridge in its present position but does not indicate details of its construction.

It is known that until 1947 a timber bridge was in place. This bridge was swept away in floods in 1947 and was later replaced with a bailey bridge, which was surplus from the Second World War.

The bailey bridge served its purpose well up until recent time, when a structural inspection and assessment revealed that the bridge was in a very poor condition and was incapable of carrying sufficient load to allow the local farmers access to their fields and pedestrian/cyclist to the next village in order to shop.

Cambridgeshire County Council embarked upon a scheme to replace the bridge in August 2001 in conjunction with consultants Atkins.  Various options for replacing the bridge were investigated and eventually a Mabey Compact 200 panel bridge was chosen to replace the ailing bridge. This was deemed the best option in terms of cost and speed of erection and minimising disruption. Had a traditional bridge structure been built then the works would have taken several months to complete instead of the few short weeks actually taken.

The current bridge is the same span as the old structure, 33.5 metres and has been erected on the original 

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foundations.  It has a clear width of 3.3 metres and an overall width of 5 metres and weighs approximately 40 tonnes. The parapet height is 1.6 metres, (original 1.1 metres), providing additional protection for horse riders.

The deck is made of steel plate and has had a non-slip coating applied. The structure is capable of taking a single tackle machine of 30 tonnes.

Then bridge was erected by jacking up the old structure, sitting it on rollers, bolting on a new 3 metre panel, launching the bridge towards the meadow and then removing the old end panel. The process was repeated for each of the panels.

Mabey-Support bridges are used throughout the world as temporary structures and also as permanent bridges like black bridge. Other examples of permanent bridges can be found in Suffolk, Wales, Stirlingshire and Essex.

The Black Bridge was reopened officially in June 2002 by The Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mr James Crowden KStJ JP.black bridge img11