Dorset

'Thomas Hardy novel' bridge in Dorset reopens after collapse

Wool Bridge repair works Image copyright Dorset County Council
Image caption Reinforced concrete has been used to repair the retaining wall of the bridge

An Elizabethan bridge that features in Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles has reopened after partially collapsing.

The Grade II* listed Wool Bridge, which crosses the River Frome in Dorset, was damaged in January.

The bridge, which has been closed to traffic for many years, has reopened to pedestrians and cyclists.

Reinforced concrete was used to repair its retaining wall to stop future erosion, the county council said.

A dry-dam constructed during repair work has been removed as the stonework is now above the waterline of the river, as has a temporary scaffold bridge, it added.

Image copyright Dorset County Council
Image caption Cracks began to appear on Wool Bridge in January before the wall "slumped" and was washed away , the council said
Image copyright Dorset County Council
Image caption A dam was erected in the river to allow the area around the affected section of the bridge to dry out

A spokesman said: "This ensures that all six arches of the bridge are free for the river to flow through as this time of year there is a greater risk of increased water flow and potential flooding."

Work will continue until the end of November to put back the original stonework using lime mortar to "retain the character" of the bridge, Dorset County Council said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The bridge features in Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Image copyright Dorset County Council
Image caption Work will continue until the end of November to put back the original stonework of the bridge

The collapse did not affect the arches of the bridge.

A bridge is first recorded to have crossed the river at the same point in 1343, although Historic England said the current structure was built in the 16th Century.

It features in Tess of the D'Urbervilles due to its location next to Woolbridge Manor, the home of the D'Urberville family.

Image copyright Chris Shaw
Image caption The bridge has been closed to traffic for many years

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