New Bridge Completed

Work has now been completed on the rebuilding of the Wreake End Footbridge off Meadow Lane, Syston in Leicestershire (grid ref 609 121) and will, at a stroke, unlock the hidden potential of the disused Melton Mowbray Navigation.

The old bridge had steps at one end denying access to prams, pushchairs, bicycles, the elderly and, crucially, wheelchairs. Following a television appeal and telephone vote the People’s Lottery Fund awarded £50 million to Sustrans Connect2 Schemes which has allowed the completion of many unfinished projects up and down the country, including the Watermead Park area in Leicestershire.

The work included: resurfacing paths within the park, improving signage and car parking facilities, plus improvement to all routes into the venue. The canal towpath at Syston provided easy access into the park, but the steps at the bridge were prohibitive to some groups of people.

The new bridge addresses these problems with easy access ramps, a wider deck and, in keeping with the Sustrans ethic, green and sustainable characteristics.

The old flat deck concrete structure was removed a few weeks ago and following extensive groundworks, the bridge was lifted into place on Thursday 6th December. The bridge opened to the public in December, and there will be an official opening in the spring.

The Melton and Oakham Waterways Society (MOWS) has worked alongside Sustrans, British Waterways and Leics County Council to ensure that the new bridge also comes with 2.4 metres of navigable headroom, unlocking the potential for future restoration. MOWS has worked since it’s inception in 1997 to clear the navigation and stabilise the lock chambers.

MOWS Chairman, Mick Clowes, said “This new bridge will accelerate plans to open up the river corridor for the use of all and exploit the underused leisure possibilities that the Wreake Valley holds.”
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