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Worcester Foregate Street railway bridge is opened officially
A HISTORIC railway bridge lovingly restored to its former glory has been officially opened by the people who made it all possible.
The rejuvenated Foregate Street railway bridge has been admired since the scaffolding first came down and an opening ceremony was held today to mark the milestone.
Coun David Wilkinson, Worcester City Council’s heritage champion and vice-chairman of planning, said at a speech at the nearby Whitehouse Hotel: “Foregate Street is a key gateway to the city and the railway bridge is an integral part of that.
"First impressions are important, and for anyone coming into Worcester from the north, the impression they get as they approach Foregate Street bridge gives them a feel for what Worcester as a whole is like - in particular how we care for our heritage.
"Worcester’s rich heritage - its historic environment - is important; it is one of the city’s unique selling points, a reason people come to Worcester and regard it as somewhere special.”
He said he was very impressed with the work carried out by contractors J Murphy & Sons Limited, civil engineering and rail specialists, on behalf of Network Rail who own and maintain our railways.
He added: “I am optimistic that we can now remove the bridge from our Heritage at Risk Register.”
The grade two listed bridge was built in 1860 with the parapets remodelled in 1908.
Philip Hanson, scheme project manager for Network Rail, said the project required extensive work to restore the bridge to its former glory, including repair of steel girders and cast iron facades.
He said: “It is now a familiar and historic landmark for which Worcester can truly be proud.”
Simon Geraghty, leader of Worcester city council, Coun John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transport on Worcestershire County Council, and conservation officer Cristina Gardiner also attended the opening.
Mr Geraghty said Foregate Street was Worcester’s ‘gateway station’ and he said work could now begin on improving the station itself.
The £1.1 million work on the bridge was due to finish on August 31 but workmen found more corrosion than expected and a new timetable was drawn up.
The £785,000 work to the station is part of a £20 million package of work to improve the transport network which includes work to Malvern station, the southern link road and ‘corridor improvements’ to Ombersley Road and Tolladine Road in Worcester.
The work to Worcester’s station by the county council, which already has planning permission, will involve replacement of 1970s canopies, automatic doors at both entrances, better cycle storage facilities, new customer service screens and a fresh coat of paint.