Stonbury Limited are carrying out a major refurbishment of Wilford Suspension bridge that spans the River Trent in Nottingham. Stonbury, who are experienced in such renovation work in environmentally sensitive situations, were employed by North Midlands Construction who are framework contractors to the bridges owners, Severn Trent Water.

The bridge, which was opened in 1906, caters for both pedestrians and cyclists, as well as carrying water to Wilford Hill reservoir, and a gas main to West Bridgford. Although quite capable of supporting its own weight, an inspection of the 70 metre bridge in July 2008, revealed structural problems and safety concerns with regard to public use. This required closure of the Edwardian, Grade 2 listed structure until a major refurbishment could be completed.

The refurbishment programme includes the reinforcement of main bridge beams, replacement of defective structural supports and fixings, and stripping back and replacing protective coatings to the steelwork. The timber deck will also be replaced and anti-pigeon measures are being installed. The masonry towers and approach structures are being re-pointed and numerous minor works are also being undertaken.

With consideration for the environmental issues that were raised from working over the river, the first task was to encapsulate the whole bridge by erecting a specially designed scaffold that was encased in heat -sealed ‘shrink wrap’. Together with a dustless blasting technique to remove existing coating materials, this prevented any debris from entering the watercourse, whilst at the same time minimising noise pollution produced from blasting of the steel.

Still with the environment in mind, Stonbury employed a two part, solvent free epoxy coating system for all the steel surfaces. This system has the advantage that the steel substrate did not have to be blast cleaned right down to white metal, thus saving blasting time, use of energy and natural resources.

All parties concerned are working to re-open the bridge as soon as possible. It is an important crossing linking the Meadows with West Bridgford and is a key transport corridor for fans travelling to the football and cricket grounds just along the river. The refurbishment is expected to cost in the region of £1.2 million and will ensure the long- term future of the bridge.