This page is a look back at our White Bridge project from 2011-12 when Mells Parish Council won a Lottery grant for Diamond Jubilee Restoration Project to replace the footbridge across Mells Stream.
A parish party was held to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as well as the fomal opening of the new White Bridge on Saturday 2 June. After Edmund Costelloe, Chairman of Mells Parish Council, had welcomed the guests of honour David Heath MP and Edward Drewe, Mendip District Councillor, he invited the Rev Martin Weymont, Rector of Mells with Vobster, to say a prayer of dedication for the new footbridge.
Before cutting the ribbon, Lord Oxford thanked all those involved with the project, especially John Mann, the designer, and noted that the oak handrail and the commemorative stone set into the new wall on the northern bank had been made in the village.
Drinks and refreshments were provided for the guests and lottery tee shirts and balloons distributed to the children.
Mells’ 30 year old utilitarian footbridge was promptly removed on the morning of 15 March 2012 and, ahead of schedule, the slightly curved deck of the new bridge with its final non-slip granulated surface was lowered into place with no unexpected snags.
The air-dried oak balustrade, fabricated in Mells, will be installed shortly and regular users of White Bridge can look forward to the unofficial opening as soon as it has been bedded in properly and made safe. Landscaping will then take place ready for the Parish party and the bridge’s official opening on the Saturday of Diamond Jubilee week.
Following a grant for £9,000 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All, and further grants of £5,000 from the Mells & Vobster Community Trust and £4,000 from Somerset County Council, Mells Parish Council is going ahead with its plans to replace the utilitarian footbridge across Mells Stream, known as White Bridge, with a more attractive design more in keeping with its Victorian predecessor.
The Big Lottery Fund distributes half of the National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.
Mells Parish Council, in conjunction with the Mells Estate who will fund the landscaping work, intends to make this project the impetus for the enhancement of the adjacent area on the southern side of the Mells Stream and the focus for the village’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
An elegant but robust design in composite galvanised steel and oak, designed by Mells resident John Mann, of Bath consulting civil and structural engineers Mann Williams, has been selected at a total cost of £18,000. The superstructure will be built off site and craned into position once the existing bridge has been removed. Construction work should start early in 2012 and the new bridge will be in place and in use by the public by April 2012.
White Bridge and the footpaths leading to it are well used by walkers and school children but the area, which used to boast an attractive white wooden bridge, has become gloomy and neglected. Somerset County Council inspectors duly confirmed that the bridge was in poor condition. The Parish Council’s scheme will enable this historic footpath, the sole river crossing in the centre of Mells, to be enjoyed by locals and visitors in the context of an open vista last seen in Victorian photographs. It is anticipated that the new bridge will be officially opened on Diamond Jubilee Day with a parish party.
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