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News article created on 6 October 2014

Four-week restoration of Blue Bell Bridge underway

We've started a four-week conservation project to refurbish the 200-year old Blue Bell Bridge on the Stratford on Avon Canal near Solihull.

Costing £30,000, the restoration of the Grade II Listed bridge requires traditional craft skills. The repairs are set to be completed by mid-October and include rebuilding one of the bridge’s brick parapets and replacing its sandstone coping stones.

John Johnson, waterway supervisor at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “The bridge is a well preserved and little altered example of those along the Stratford on Avon Canal. At the time it was built the bridge was used by horse and cart. Today it’s used by cars, vans and even lorries; including those visiting the popular Blue Bell pub.

“The odd bump and scrape by passing motorists, as well as 200 years of weather, have taken their toll and now we’re here to give the bridge some tlc. The bridge is an integral part of the unique character of the Stratford on Avon Canal and we’re really pleased to be able to give it the care and attention it deserves.”

Traditional craft skills

Lizzie Thomson, heritage advisor at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “As a Listed bridge, the work has required clearance from Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.  We are using traditional craft skills to carry out the repairs including using lime mortar. 

"We have also had to search the brickyards of the West Midlands for suitable replacements to match the original brick stock. These historic bricks are currently in short supply across the UK as building works have kicked off again following the recession.  The red sandstone for the repair will also match the original and has had to be brought down from Staffordshire.”