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The charity making life better by water

We've reopened Gloucester bridge to tall ships

We're preparing to welcome a flotilla of vessels into Gloucester for the popular Tall Ships Festival after repairs made to a major lift bridge that allows ships passage into Gloucester Docks.

Wide shot of a suspension bridge over water

During an inspection, cracks were found at the base of a mast on High Orchard Bridge, which carries St Ann Way over the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in Gloucester. This meant the bridge could not safely lift to allow vessels above the height of five metres to navigate the canal, preventing ships from being able to get into the docks.

Our teams sprang into action, working closely with contractors Kier to complete repairs in time for the popular event to go ahead. The work that has taken place allows the bridge to be operated safely again, with future work planned to improve the bridge cables and road surface.

Picture of a road on a suspension bridge

Welcoming ships to a fantastic festival

Richard Wakelen, our head of asset management, explained: "Our experienced engineers, alongside our contractors, have worked incredibly quickly to identify the problems with High Orchard Bridge and carry out the repairs as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Tall Ships Festival brings in thousands of visitors who come to see the ships and explore the Docks, and we knew we had to get the bridge fixed in time. We’re delighted that the bridge is now fully open and we’re ready to welcome the ships for a fantastic festival.

"As a charity, urgent repairs like this come at a cost, and we have invested £250,000 in repairing the bridge so the Tall Ships Festival can go ahead, at a time when we are facing increasing challenges in our work to keep canals alive. We welcome support – we urge locals and visitors alike to come and find us at the festival to find out about our work and how people can help make a difference."

The Tall Ships Festival takes place on the weekend of 25-27 May with ships having featured in Hollywood blockbusters such as Napoleon and the Pirates of the Caribbean, and which have travelled from as far as Spain, as part of the line-up.

Kingfisher in flight with small fish in its beak

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Last Edited: 24 May 2024

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