Branches West Vale Restoration
Steppingstone Lane Bridge

The bridge was originally constructed in 1804/5 to carry the road from Shrivenham to Bourton. With the construction of Avenue Road, access to Bourton was improved and this route became less important and has been a simple track and bridleway for many years. In the late 1940's the bridge had become unsafe and was culverted and then collapsed onto the culvert to take the bridleway across the canal bed.

The project to rebuild this bridge is nearing completion; it has been rebuilt from the foundations up by volunteers, with a brick arch similar to the original.

Current Position

The new bridge was opened in July 2012 after Oxfordshire County Council agreed that the bridge was safe. Since then the temporary bridleway diversion has been closed, coping stones added to one parapet and one wing-wall rebuilt.

Work continues with the rebuilding of the remaining three wing-walls and adding coping stones to the other parapet.

SSB JLY13-2 

In July 2013, the Waterway Recovery Group returned for a week-long camp. They cut and fitted coping stones, that had been donated by Network rail from a demolished bridge, to the top of one of the parapet walls and rebuilt the north-east wing-wall to the bridge.

During 2014 we were fortunate to get a further supply of recycled stone coping from a bridge near Andover that Network Rail was rebuilding and also a grant from the Midcounties Co-operative Community Fund.
Over the summer of 2014 we excavated the remains of the wing-walls to the west of the bridge, a substantial length of the south-west wall was still standing but the north-west wall had totally collapsed or been removed. As this section of the canal is in a cutting, during winter it is full of water and frequently flooded, so work can only proceed in the (hopefully drier) summer months.

Once work to the wing-walls is complete we can look forward to removing the temporary dams and landscaping the site.

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SSLBwings2014-04 SSB JLY13-1 SSB JLY13-3
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 SSLBwings2014-06

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Project History and Photographs of the Rebuild

As It Was - Bridge Site February 2001 Looking east from the coffer damsAs It Was - Bridge Site February 2001 Looking west from the coffer dams

 

Planning permission to rebuild the bridge was obtained in March 2000 and two temporary coffer dams, one either side of the bridge site, were constructed. The western dam to act as a temporary diversion for the bridleway.


The storage container arrives on the original bridleway, over the bridge site

Preparations began on 17 February 2001 with the moving of a storage container to the site to house plant and materials. Work then had to stop during the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of that year. It recommenced the following winter.

The required bridleway diversion was completed in April 2002; we cleared the new temporary route and made it safe with fencing and surfacing. Preliminary excavation of the side walls of the original bridge started in May 2002 but full excavation of the site only started at end July 2002 with official approval of the diversionary route and the closure of the original bridleway.


Click here for pictures of the construction of the bridleway diversion.

 

It took until May 2003 to excavate the entire site and first impressions were that the foundations were reusable.
Click here for pictures of the excavations.

Drawing of original bridgeAt the end of May 2003, Oxford County Council sent us copies of drawings they made in 1947, showing the original design just before the bridge was demolished.

It took 3 years to fully establish the condition of the remaining foundations, prepare construction plans for the new bridge, get approval from the County Council and raise funding for the purchase of materials. Initially, it was planned that contract bricklayers would be used but volunteers throughout the Trust were eager to be involved as were volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group (WRG).

 

Ten large, curved, steel formers, 10,000 facing, 3000 engineering bricks plus quantities of cement, lime and sand were obtained and moved to the site.
The rebuilding of the bridge finally commenced, in earnest, in August 2006 and has continued as labour, funds and weather have permitted. The bridge has been rebuilt with 100% volunteer labour.

Click here for a pictorial history of the rebuild.


awards_for_allIWAWe must thank many organisations for their financial support for the purchase of materials including The Midcounties Co-operative Community Fund, The National Lottery - Awards for All, The Inland Waterways Association, The Vale of White Horse District Council, Shrivenham Parish Council and Shrivenham Institute Charity.
Our thanks also must go to the Waterway Recovery Group for their labour on numerous Canal Camps.

 


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Access to view work in progress is easy - there are good views from the bridleway and the nearby permissive footpath. The bridge can be found at grid reference SU235880.

Please stay on the rights of way and do not trespass on surrounding land. The site is dangerous with unstable ground, deep water and excavations - for your own safety; please keep out of the work-site.