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The Floods and Lorton Bridge

Date & time: Friday 19th November 2010.

Location : Lorton Bridge and the Lorton / Loweswater Valley, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 152 256 )

Places visited : Loweswater to Lorton and finally Cockermouth.

The idea of this report

is to highlight the optimism of the last year

as represented by the rebuilding of one of our local bridges.

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map. Use Everytrail to view the maps of the area ]

Lorton Bridge after the Floods at EveryTrail



( These are only our personal, local thoughts and are not meant to be a comprehensive report about Cumbria in general )

- - - o o o - - -

On the anniversary date of the Cumbrian Floods I have collated a selection of photos from the last twelve months

many of which I have not published before on Loweswatercam, plus some that were taken earlier today.

After the devastation of those three days, twelve months ago and the subsequent enormous public response

the area has slowly but surely got back on its feet.

On a local level, plans were announced, debated and finalised . . . and the Lorton Bridge is now well on the way to being rebuilt.

Nov 19th 2009 . . . the last 24 hours has seen up to twelve inches of rain fall on the high fells

and much of it is heading our way.

Storm water flooding down Boon Beck in Lorton.

After driving to work in the morning, I finished early in order to get home before the tide came in.

A twenty five minute drive took me two and a half hours after I tried all roads possible to get back up the valley.

This was Scale Bridge after I had been towed across.

The water was still rising.

Twilight found the water lapping the top of the parapets.

It would flood even higher during the hours of darkness.

Next day the sun shone briefly as if to apologise for the havoc the rain caused the day before.

By this time people had been rescued from Cockermouth as the combined flood waters of the Cocker and the Derwent met,

overflowed and devastated the town centre and demolished in all about eleven Cumbrian bridges.

One of the victims of the floods was the old stone bridge at Low Lorton

pictured here by a Loweswatercam viewer, Alison Read, just a few weeks earlier.

The bridge had gone

sweeping away several cars that had been parked on it to avoid the rising floods.

Many of the Low Lorton houses that lie close to the river were enveloped by the raging waters.

One of the lucky ones that just survived.

With the bridge went several of the mains services which were carried beneath the roadway.

A wide panorama of the gap that would face Lorton villagers for many months to come

- - - o o o - - -

A few days later the water board had restored emergency supplies to the houses on this side.

One of the flooded home owners used to be a pig farmer

and his ornamental pigs almost became a mascot for the bridge.

By Late June we were in drought conditions . . . and absolutely nothing had been done to rebuild the bridge.

That's not strictly true . . . plans had been discussed and dates were pencilled in . . . but the rubble still looked the same.

It's a shame they didn't take advantage of low water to retrieve all the dressed sandstone while it was easily available.

By August the bridge builders were on site and things had started to move.

The central pillar has been removed, the old footings cleared and work was underway.

Much of the old sandstone had been salvaged and will be sent away to be re-dressed

and hopefully would be used to clad the new structure to regain the local, original style.

That's better . . . real signs of progress now as the demolition has ended and the building begins.

The team on the other side are putting in concrete footings too.

It's a long way round for the cement lorry to deliver to both places on the same day !

September and the concrete has set and the reinforcing bars are in place.

- - - o o o - - -

A week has gone by and there's a sudden flurry of activity . . .

There are several large lorries with huge trailers negotiating the valley roads

and the day arrives when the two sides of the village are once again joined . . . if only by the span of four steel girders.

The heavy lifting gang are in town . . .
. . . dropping beams that will form the backbone of the new bridge.

The two sides are joined again after nearly nine months.

A plug for the civil engineers.

The four girders are spanned with what looks like white glass fibre reinforced shuttering.

Viewed from further up river, the final girder is being secured in place.

The engineer checks the layout before the final chains are disconnected.

[ I see the pig is there keeping an eye on proceedings. ]

From the opposite bank . . .
. . . close up of the new structure.

No . . . I didn't walk over the girders . . . the river was so low that I was able to wade across to the other side . . . honest !

The underlying structure is now in place.

The workmen must now make the structure safe and secure.

Cross beams were bolted in place between the spans.

Another spacer is flown in . . .
. . . it's been a pig of a job . . . not really !

In subsequent days a side platform had been attached in order to work on the external structure of the bridge.

Real progress now with the first skim of concrete over the span of the girders.

New abutments are prepared and the internal pipe work included to cope with mains services presumably.

I didn't wade the river this time . . . this is the view a few days later from the other side.

Hang on . . . I thought they were supposed to be building a safe structure !

- - - o o o - - -

Today is the 19th November 2010, one year to the day of the original floods, and I've returned to check out the bridge once again.

Today the parapets are up and faced with red sandstone

and it's time to remove the temporary walkways on either side as they have served their purpose.

Another large crane stands by to lift them away from the bridge.
Viewed from a safe distance, the workmen unbolt the structure.

Time to lift another of the ten foot sections away . . .

Lifting the platform . . .
. . . time to keep well clear.
An expert touch places it directly in the centre of the roadway . . .
. . . . ready to be removed from site up by a more mobile crane.

- - - o o o - - -


As the gantry structures are removed

so work continues.


The old stone has been returned after being cleaned and finished

and is ready to become part of the bridge structure once again.


It's really nice to see the re-use of the stone

as the heritage of the old bridge lives on in the new.


- - - o o o - - -

Hopefully a month from today everyone will be able to use the bridge again . . . open in time for Christmas seems to be the plan.

Thanks to the people on site in allowing me access for these and the other photos.

Everyone I've ever spoken to there has been really cheerful and helpful . . . I hope I've not got in the way . . . thanks guys.

- - - o o o - - -

The November anniversary of the floods happens to coincide with the 2010 evening of " Children in Need " on the BBC.

Tonight Cockermouth is one of the featured places on the television show that raises money for this charitable good cause.

As dusk settles we drive through the renovated town

which is getting ready to welcome the cameras and the celebrities once again.

- - - o o o - - -

Over the weekend of the 22nd January it was announced that the road bridge at Lorton would finally be open to traffic on Monday.

Unfortunately I was working that day and couldn't get across so I'm grateful to Les Web of the Mellbreak Communities Web Site

for use of his pictures. [ See his report on the link above ]

Final touches and the workmen clear the barriers.
Cumbria County Councillor Tony Markley says a few words.

He "declared the bridge open" and the children run across.
The first vehicle across was appropriately, Alison in the Post Van.

After slight delays due to the winter weather the bridge is finally open and the village is once again reunited.

At last the long drive up the valley to Scale Hill bridge, or down to Southwaite Bridge, will be thing of the past for many people.

Our thoughts have been with other flood victims in Australia or South America in recent weeks, at least here in Cumbria, life is getting back to normal.

- - - o o o - - -

The new stone confirms the fact that I'm standing on the newly opened bridge . . .

to take a photo of Bridgend House from this angle has been impossible for the last year.

Open for traffic but still just some landscaping work to complete . . .

some flower beds and maybe a coat of paint on the steel girders someone suggested ?

My official drive over, twenty four hours after the post van !

Beautiful sweeping curves . . .
. . . takes the roadway over on a new single span.

The official Plaque commemorating the re-building.

A year on and the Old Mill still has the builders in, trying to complete their renovations after the flood.

Likewise the bungalow still has much to be done after their underpinning and renovation work.

Still it's a welcome relief to all those that use the crossing, that the bridge is finally open just fourteen months after the floods hit the area.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a link restored for the local community.

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