Historic Wye Valley bridges set for improvement
HISTORIC links between communities split by the River Wye could be given a new lease of life.
Surveyors are looking at three bridges built for industry but which remain important to residents, businesses and tourists.
Old railway bridges between Redbrook and Penallt, and Lydbrook and English Bicknor, and the tramway bridge between Tintern and the Devil's Pulpit viewpoint are not in danger, said Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty development officer Andrew Nixon.
But it needs to know what condition they are in so they can plan for the future. He said it is not even clear who owns the bridges linking Gloucestershire with Wales and Herefordshire.
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"We are investigating the ownership, which is unclear in some cases," he said. "There is no reason to suggest they are unsafe but we need to know what condition they are in."
The railway bridges closed in the mid 60s and today The Boat Inn at Penallt relies on the walkway for customers and beer - it's delivered by sack truck and wheelbarrow over the bridge, to avoid a trip down narrow lanes on the Welsh side.
Before licensing laws were regularised in England and Wales, drinkers used to dash from Redbrook to The Boat, to take advantage of an extra hour's drinking time.
"The bridge is really important for the pub and we would be really interested to see how it can be improved," said a barman there. "A lot of people know where we are because of the bridge."
Mr Nixon said the exercise could also clear up differences in public access.
The Lydbrook bridge is a public footpath on the Herefordshire side but not in Gloucestershire, he said.
The Tintern bridge, which closed in the early 20th Century is a class five highway on the Monmouthshire side, which means technically a vehicle could be driven over it - but only to the middle as it's a public footpath on the Gloucestershire side.
He said the Redbrook - Penallt bridge has no status as public right of way.
"There are questions over how we can maybe make that more uniform," he said. "Having them as public rights of way would give them security but at this stage we are just assessing what condition they are in."