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News article created on 10 March 2015

Fairytale canal bridge gets a makeover

We've started a five-week project to restore one of the most unusual and well-recognised canal bridges along the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal.

Built in the early 19th Century, the gothic-style, Grade II listed Drayton Turret footbridge is located near to the entrance of the Drayton Manor theme park and is among the most ornate bridges anywhere on Britain’s canals.

With two gleaming white turrets linked together by a wooden footbridge, the bridge looks more like something you would find in the pages of a fairy-tale book rather than along one of the nation’s busiest waterways.

The £54,000 restoration project is being funded by public donations to the Canal & River Trust and with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the wider Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership scheme

The project will include stripping off all the old paint and loose mortar and giving the bridge a fresh coat of breathable white paint. The timber deck on the footbridge will be replaced and all the metalwork stripped and repainted. The towpath around the bridge will also be improved to make access to the bridge much easier.

Sir Robert Peel

The bridge dates to when Sir Robert Peel (British Prime Minister and founder of the police force) built his new mansion at Drayton Bassett. The canal ran through his estate so it’s widely thought that Sir Robert wanted the bridge to be a feature along the canal rather than the more practical styles typically seen along the waterways.

Sarah Brice, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “Drayton Turret footbridge is one of a kind and really makes a statement along this stretch of canal. It took someone as wealthy and influential as Sir Robert Peel to demand such an elaborate, custom-made bridge at the end of his garden.

“The work we are carrying out will mean the bridge will continue to delight visitors to the canal for many more years to come.”

Tim Haselden, Tame Valley Wetlands scheme manager adds: “What better way to launch our Landscape Partnership Scheme than by working with the Canal & River Trust to restore this unique piece of local heritage, helping to preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

During the work the footbridge will remain closed. The towpath will still be open but will need to be closed when the resurfacing works start. A clear diversion route will be in place.