Posted on: Monday 30 June 2014
Aaron Brute’s Bridge in Blaenavon has received the Special Award for Heritage at the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) Wales Cymru Awards 2014.
The bridge is one of the oldest cast iron bridges in Britain, and was built in 1812 by Aaron Brute as a means of transporting valuable minerals to the nearby ironworks.
It was scheduled by Cadw as an ancient monument in 1994, but closed in 2003 due to potential risk from collapse. As a result it was listed as an endangered structure by UNESCO, which aims to protect sites of outstanding universal value.
The Blaenavon World Heritage Site Partnership was essential to developing this collaborative project and successful applications for funding were made to the European Regional Development Fund, Heads of the Valleys Regeneration Programme and Cadw, through the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales as part of the Valleys Regional Park Programme. The restoration is part of a wider programme of World Heritage Site projects designed to increase visitors to the area and boost the local economy.
The bridge was successfully removed, restored and reinstated between June 2012 and May 2013, with the newly restored bridge being officially opened by Carl Sargeant AM, the Minister for Housing and Regeneration on 12 June 2013.
The restoration overcame a number of key engineering challenges including the removal and conservation of the cast iron bridge without damaging the original structure, and rebuilding the stone abutment walls and weir on the site of a difficult to access, fast rising river.
It was praised by judges who said the bridge was restored to the “highest possible standards” and that the design was “an innovative solution to a difficult problem.” They said it was an “excellent example of the way in which heritage structures can be retained for future generations.”
The leader of Torfaen council, Councillor Bob Wellington, said: “Aaron Brute’s bridge is an incredibly important part of the Blaenavon World Heritage site but more than that, as one of the only examples of its kind still standing it has an international significance.
“It was a challenging project and this award is a tremendous achievement for everyone involved in the restoration.”
Aaron Brute’s bridge is located along a new waymarked trail which links historic features of interest between the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre and Big Pit National Coal Museum. Its restoration improves the accessibly of these sites by foot and the bridge is an important visitor attraction in its own right.
The project was delivered for Torfaen County Borough Council by Capita Property & Infrastructure Ltd who were the principal designers and engineers. The contractor was Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd.