Rugby councillor pleads with landowners to protect their heritage ahead of demolition of a Victorian railway bridge

Permission to demolish the bridge was granted earlier this week

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:49 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:50 pm
Rugby Town Hall.

A Rugby councillor has pleaded with local landowners to protect their heritage after it was agreed to pull down a decrepit bridge over a once famous railway track.

Cllr Tony Gillias (Con, Revel and Binley Woods) proposed demolition of Bridge 24, near Fields Farm Lane, in Marton, which spans the old Lias Line which is subject of a £5.7m investment to create a new greenway for walkers and cyclists.

But he urged council officers to monitor other historic bridges while calling on others to do their bit to preserve the region’s heritage.

The Victorian bridge comprises three arches and is built mostly of blue brick - possibly around the same time the line was opened in 1851.

Speaking at this week’s (July 21) planning meeting of Rugby Borough Council, Cllr Gillias said: “Clearly the bridge has gone past its sell-by date. I just want to point out that skills needed to construct these bridges are never to be seen again and it is up to the custodians - the people who own these bridges - to look after them and care for them.

“Bridges should be monitored. Think about the hard work, graft and skill that went into building those, it is a very last resort that we pull them down.

“Let’s try to preserve them for our future generations. I’m pleading with the people in charge of these assets to look after them.”

Cllr Neil Sandison (Lib Dem, Eastlands) added: “I hate to see heritage bridges destroyed at any time. They do need to be maintained and I think there is some money in our budget to do that but this one has gone beyond the point of no return and either we pull it down or it is going to fall down.”

Councillors were told by planning officer Frances Keenan that the bridge - which was used by a local farmer - would be replaced by a ground level crossing over the greenway.

She said: “It is in quite a state of disrepair - there are numerous cracks and this has been as a result of overloading as farm machinery throughout the years has got larger and heavier. It also has quite a lot of animal burrowing which doesn’t help the situation and it doesn’t have a very good drainage system so water is leaking into the cracks, removing the mortar.

“It is at risk of collapse and this will obviously be a detriment to the safety of the future greenway users and local farmers.

“It is considered a non-designated heritage asset by the council but the loss of the bridge will not detract from the historical value of the line as a whole.”