New Weir Bridge

23 June 2021

As a house of significant age, there is always a long list of renovations that need attention. Many of the smaller fixes are completed in the day-to-day running of the Castle but the larger projects can take months, sometimes years, of planning.

One such larger project has been the restoration of the wrought-iron bridge over the weir.

An area enjoyed by many of our visitors, the weir sits at the far end of the 14 acre lake and leads to a stilling pool. The bridge over the weir connects the north and south sides of the lakeside walk and was initially installed in 1828. The views from the bridge are impressive and, over the years, thousands of visitors have stood there to admire the views and watch the weir in action.

All this traffic and spray from the cascading water have taken their toll on the bridge and so it was decided, sometime before 1939, that the bridge should be reinforced with two RSJ's and a concrete footway to replace the former one. By 2020, the RSJ's were beginning to fail, so the restoration of the bridge to its original condition was considered. Work was due to start in 2020, but the Coronavirus pandemic forced us to defer all non-essential repair projects.

In July 2020, however, the UK Government and Historic England announced an unprecedented Heritage Stimulus Fund of which the Historic Houses Foundation would be a beneficiary.

Based on its knowledge of historic English houses and their value to the local community through supporting jobs and visitor economy, the Historic Houses Foundation carefully chose 18 nationally- important properties to benefit from grants. We were thrilled to be chosen and set to work immediately to re-ignite our bridge restoration project.

Enlisting the help of Colin Birks (the Eastnor Estate surveyor) and Nick Joyce (Herefordshire Council Listed Buildings Officer (acting) and Conservation Architect), a more ambitious restoration project was considered which involved replacing lost wrought-iron elements and putting the structure back to its original form using Barr & Grosvenor, a traditional iron foundry, led by Dominic Grosvenor and based in Wolverhampton.

Engineer Charles Shapcott was commissioned to specify the work and design the cast iron plates for the footway as the original designs had been lost. A redundant cast iron girder from the Castle and found underneath the Castle Portcullis was taken to Barr & Grosvenor and melted down to be recycled in the bridge.

With the components all delivered and fitted, the final touches of paint colours were specified by Lucy Hervey-Bathurst (Lucy Manners Interiors) and the final stonework repairs were executed by Richard Martin of Heritage Stone Access.

With work finally complete, today saw the ceremonial joint opening of the new bridge by Edward Harley OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire, and his wife, Victoria, a recent Commissioner for Historic England, attended by some involved in the project.

Here’s to many, many more feet crossing the weir bridge!

The new Weir Bridge

Official bridge opening by Victoria Harley, former Commissioner, Historic England and Edward Harley OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire