Whorlton Suspension Bridge

Completed in 1831, Whorlton Suspension Bridge is one of the UK’s earliest remaining examples of a wrought iron chained suspension bridge, with twin battered masonry pylons at each end. Providing a vital crossing over the River Tees and connecting local communities it has been closed to all traffic since December 2020 following an assessment of its load carrying capacity.

What we are doing

The bridge was initially closed to vehicles following the identification of a failed hanger to a chain connection. It was subsequently closed to all traffic in December 2020 following a detailed inspection and assessment process undertaken by Pell Frischmann’s Bridge Engineering Team which highlighted concerns over the bridge’s load carrying capacity.

Diversion routes for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians were put in place whilst a programme of further investigation and testing was undertaken to better understand the bridge’s current condition and gather further information on material properties.

Our experts worked closely with the client to approve temporary works designs proposed by the specialist contractor undertaking the further investigation and testing works. This included refining and reviewing the initial structural assessment based on the findings of the investigation works, which will prove critical in the bridge’s restoration.

For the project’s current phase, we have now been appointed to undertake the Design & Build stages for our client, VolkerLaser. Our works will involve the design of the timber deck replacement and refurbishment works to the existing suspension system to maintain as much of the original 1830’s ironwork as possible. Where elements have been identified as substandard through the assessment process or deemed to have deteriorated beyond repair, we will design sympathetic replacements through collaboration with Historic England and local conservation engineers.

Outcomes so far

As well as being a historically significant structure, and timepiece illustrating the feats of engineering from the 1830s, it is also critical in transporting communities and trade seamlessly over the River Tees. We are working closely with the wider team aiming for this bridge to have adequate live loading capacity again. Our works will contribute to keeping the bridge safe and this iconic structure alive for many years to come.

Pell Frischmann’s Bridges Associate Jinliang Zhu said:

Our team is proud to have been working on a bridge with such historical significance. The bridge is essential to the local area, providing a vital connection between communities. We will continue to work closely with our client to bring this iconic bridge back into use, to enable the local community to regain their convenience from it.

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