The renovation works to Forge Cottage Footbridge, situated in Priory Groves woodland on the outskirts of Brecon, were completed last month thanks to funding from Powys County Council and Brecon Beacons National Park Authority’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
The bridge is located in an environmentally important area of woodland – a Site of Special Scientific Interest – with the nearby trees home to bats and nesting birds, while the River Honddu, which runs under the bridge, holds protected crayfish, spawning fish and otters. In fact Forge Cottage Footbridge itself has played an important role for local wildlife – cracks and crevices in the deteriorating bridge walls had provided room for bats to roost, and all partners felt it was important that special bat refuges were incorporated into the restored bridge walls as an integral part of the new design.
So delicate was the nature of the work taking place that special permission had to be sought from the Environment Agency. Restoration work was carried out over a 14 week period by local contractors Nick Davies Builders, including rebuilding of wing walls, replacing the stone arch, changing and replacing cracked and missing stone, repointing and replacing railings and the removal of tree stumps.
The newly restored masonry arch stone bridge makes up part of a rural pathway joining the Priory Groves woodland to the Penlan area of the town, and it is hoped the newly refurbished structure will continue to play an important role for walkers and wildlife alike.
Martin Buckle, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority Member Champion for Heritage, said: “I think it is fantastic that we’ve been able to help conserve this bridge while at the same time protecting local biodiversity. This reinstatement work is a shining example of what can be achieved by working in collaboration with other local authorities.”
Cllr Graham Brown, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Countryside Services, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working that residents across Powys and visitors to the county will benefit greatly from.
“The council’s Countryside Services worked together with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority in restoring this bridge over the River Honddu, both organisations have now ensured this Public Right of Way remains accessible for all to enjoy for many more years to come.”