Facelift to restore the glory of Lady's Bridge

ONE of Sheffield's most historic bridges - recently featured in the nation's top 10 album charts - is to be restored to its full Victorian glory.

Lady's Bridge, which links the Wicker with the city centre, has recently received wider fame after local singer-songwriter Richard Hawley named his latest album after it.

Now repairs, refurbishment and strengthening are to be carried out to the bridge, including the installation of four Victorian-style lighting columns.

"It looks a bit neglected and we want to make it loved again," said city council development officer Mick Empsall.

"The stonework is getting tatty and broken and about half of the cast iron balustrades are cracked. We are restoring it to its former glory."

Renovation is being done by the council as part of a 2.8m project to improve the environment between the new inner relief road and Lady's Bridge.

"We are trying to recreate how it looked in Victorian times," said Mr Empsall.

This includes stripping off the layers of paint to try to discover the original colour so it can be repainted accordingly.

But part of the bridge dates back to medieval times, when it was used to cross the River Don to Sheffield Castle.

Ironically, the original medieval stonework in the middle has stood up best to the increasing weight of traffic.

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It is the Victorian extensions at the side that are having to be strengthened so the bridge can carry the latest big lorries.

The June floods caused little damage because most of the water was able to keep flowing under the arches.

To coincide with the refurbishment and to take into account changes to the surrounding highways, the road over the Don will be reduced from three lanes to two, allowing the pavements to be widened.

Blonk Bridge, further along the Don, is to be similarly repaired, with concrete railings being replaced with metal as in the original design.

The overall 2.8m costs are being met by the Government-backed regional development agency Yorkshire Forward as part of a scheme that includes new paving, seats, lighting and tree planting to help make the whole area more attractive in time for the opening of the new ring road. This is in addition to a 3m project for environmental improvements between the inner relief road and the Wicker Arches.

It is hoped that most of the work will be completed by early next year.