It looks like Ludford Bridge, the main route into Ludlow from the south, will be closed until the end of April. Tonight’s update is based on information provided this afternoon by Shropshire Council’s consulting engineers, Mouchel.

Bill Klemperer, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, has validated the application for scheduled ancient monument consent for the repairs. The application is now awaiting approval by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The culture department is expected to rubber stamp the application. Work on the bridge cannot start before consent is granted, as that would be a criminal offence.

With the help of Shropshire Council’s heritage team and local mason Paul Arrowsmith, three local stone suppliers have been identified and approved by Bill Klemperer. This gives us a choice of suppliers from within Shropshire.

The recovery by divers of the stone knocked into the riverbed was planned for Friday 11 March. This work has been delayed until water levels drop. Once recovered, the stone will be removed from site for security and to dry out.

A specification for the lime mortar has been agreed using local sands to match the colour and texture of the existing mortar used for the bridge. Local mason Paul Arrowsmith is preparing samples for approval.

Shropshire Council’s engineering consultants Mouchel have instructed the council’s contractor, Ringway to do the repair work. Ringway is currently indicating that it will take up to six weeks to complete the project (though this will depend on the weather):

Week 1: Site mobilisation, erect temporary scaffold system and recover existing stone from river. Scaffolders will begin erecting the scaffolding on Wednesday 16 March. This work is expected to take one week.

Weeks 2-5 (maximum): Stone remedial repairs to upstream cutwater and parapet.

Week 6: De-mobilise, clear scaffold system, remove diversion signage and clear the site.

While this work takes place, the opportunity will be taken to cut back vegetation to the low islands upstream of the bridge. The engineers say that damage to the Temeside retaining wall is minor in nature and likely only to require minor resetting of stones and repointing.

As repairs get underway, our attention must turn to the long term future of the bridge. Should HGVs be banned from crossing the bridge (except buses and for access)? Vote now.

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