Our most recent project has been to replace the old footbridge across the river that was originally used to transfer the towing path between Pipps Ford and Baylham from south west to north east. The path needed to cross over so the towing horses would be on the correct side to negotiate the lock further downstream at Baylham. The original bridge deck disappeared many years ago and was last seen at the bottom of the river in 1942.
Fortunately, some of the original 230 year old brick abutments remained, and with around 500 bricks recovered from the river bed the abutments have been restored. The new 2m wide footbridge spans the 10m gap and sit on the original abutments. It was delivered in a kit of parts and assembled and installed by Trust volunteers.
On a glorious summer's day on Saturday 20th May, a crowd of around 75 watched as the guest of honour, local MP Dr Dan Poulter, cut the red ribbon to declare the newly reinstated footbridge across the river Gipping at Baylham in Suffolk officially open.
The Trust have made the permissive footpath to and from the footbridge suitable for rugged wheelchairs, mobility scooters and push chairs, by levelling out gradients and replacing any steps with ramps. A 22m ramp up to and down from the footbridge has been installed.
The 22m long ramps each side of the footbridge are now complete, with volunteers filling 64 Gabion (wire baskets) with a total of around 10,000 bricks. Luckily we found piles of them at Baylham, all dumped there some 50 years ago, presumably by the then mill owner. Around 10,000 volunteer hours of work was invested into the footbridge and ramps leading to it.
All these bricks were cleaned and re-laid. The abutment height was reduced by three courses to compensate for the lost and broken bricks.
By September 2021 the abutments had been restored allowing the new timber footbridge platform to be installed by volunteers.
With two trees and over 500 bricks laying at the bottom of the river bed, this is how the abutments looked in 2020
A temporary scaffolding was erected across the river in May 2021, used to assist in the transfer of the five wooden beams across the river
Delivered from Manchester, the five beams arrived at Pipps Ford and were unloaded and transported down to the river in August 2021
The five beams arriving riverside from their offload location at Pipps Ford, across the farmers field some 500m away
With the help of the local farmers teleporter and our own digger trust volunteers rolled the very large wooden beams across on the temporary scaffolding
Celebrating the completion of the wooden platform and the 230 year old brick abutment restoration in October 2021.
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