OFFICIAL OPENING OF VICTORIA BRIDGE


Exactly 108 years to the day after Hereford’s well-known Victoria footbridge was opened, the landmark is to be officially re-opened following a £725,000 repair and restoration project. The bridge was made available to the public a month ahead of schedule, on Wednesday, September 6, and has already attracted a lot of positive comments from users who approve of the return to the bridge’s original colour scheme. At the same time, a new riverside sculpture, called “A Fish’s Eye View,” will be unveiled adjacent to the bridge.

Cllr John Edwards, Chairman of Herefordshire Council, will declare the bridge officially open at 2pm on Friday, September 29. Dignitaries invited to the official opening include descendants of Augustus Edwards, the local businessman who was the prime mover in original proposals to build the bridge.

The Victoria Footbridge was built in 1898 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria the previous year and was formally opened on September 29 1898, by Lady Emily Foley, and was then handed over by the Bridge Committee to the Citizens of Hereford. Before the footbridge was built a ferry, the Princess Mary, transported people across the river Wye at this point. Read more for the full story ...

Cllr Brian Wilcox, Cabinet Member (Highways and Transportation), said: “This project has not been without its problems – vandalism and high water levels following heavy spring rainfall could have held up progress – but I’m happy to say that despite this, work was completed ahead of time.

“The bridge is now restored, looks splendid and is again well used by the people of Herefordshire and visitors to the City.”

Cllr John Edwards, Chairman of Herefordshire Council, said: “It’s excellent timing to be officially re-opening this very important piece of Hereford City’s heritage.

“The history of the footbridge is fascinating and was recently the focus of a heritage open day at the Castle Green Training Centre. The exhibition attracted more than 500 visitors on the day and can now be seen on display at the Hereford City Library and Museum.“

The restoration work has been carried out to make the footbridge as close to the original as possible, but strengthening parts where necessary.

Restrictions on the way the work was carried out were applied as the River Wye is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.

In addition the Environment Agency imposed a strict time limit for the work to be carried out.

The bridge will be temporarily closed for several minutes during the ceremony.

VIEW FROM A RIVER BANK

A specially commissioned piece of public art depicting a fish’s eye view of the River Wye is to be unveiled at a popular beauty spot in Hereford.

A steel monument illustrating life form the bottom of the river, called “A Fish’s Eye View,” has been installed along the banks of the River Wye, in king George’s Playing Field, next to the newly restored Victoria Bridge.

The sculpture, which depicts reeds, ripples in the water and fish, has been installed beside the footpath.

Designer blacksmith Chris Brammall, who trained at Hereford College of Art and Technology, beat off strong competition from 17 other artists to secure the work.

He hopes people will be encouraged to take a closer look and walk underneath the sculpture – which will give them the impression they are looking up from the bottom of the river, similar to a fish’s view from the bottom of the river bed, while walking along the path,

“The work was commissioned after the success of four other pieces of public art in King George’s Playing Field,” said Cllr Roy Stockton, Cabinet Member (Community Services).

“Under that scheme, known as the City Carver Scheme, four old trees, which had to be felled because they were diseased and presented a danger to the public, were transformed into works of public art.

“Wooden sculptures were carved from the old stumps including a leaping salmon and diving otter.

“Unfortunately the life shell of these carvings was only ten years due to natural decomposing and whilst two still remain, the frog and Mappa Mundi Tree, the otter and leaping salmon have been destroyed.

“This new work will replace these two popular carvings and because it is made of steel it will have a much longer life expectancy so that generations of families can view and enjoy it,” added Cllr Stockton.

Chris Brammall was inspired to create “A Fish’s Eye View” after public consultation, which involved a representative from St. Martin’s Residents Association in the selection panel and Mr Brammell presenting his ideas to the Association.

Posted: Thu - September 28, 2006 at 10:13 am          


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