Seeing red: Norfolk County Council botches 19th century bridge fix with wrong bricks

The Nuns' Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt

The Nuns' Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

We have heard of The Wrong Trousers and the 'wrong kind of snow' - now we have the wrong bricks.

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

For when engineers moved in to repair a set of landmark bridges in Thetford, they botched the job by selecting the incorrect bricks - leaving residents literally seeing red.

The three Grade II-listed Nuns' Bridges are cherished structures in the Breckland town, dating to the early 19th century and spanning the Little Ouse and the River Thet.

In April part of one of the bridges, next to Mill Lane, was hit by a tractor, damaging a number of bricks.

Norfolk County Council spent £3,250 repairing the span - but its work provoked anger among residents, many of whom are passionate about the town's ancient heritage, when red bricks were used to replace the broken grey ones.

Thetford Town councillor Sylvia Armes when she was the Mayor of Thetford in 2014. Picture: Sonya Dun

Thetford Town councillor Sylvia Armes when she was the Mayor of Thetford in 2014. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan


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Complaints were made on various social media sites and to local authorities.

Town councillor Sylvia Armes said: 'We have got heritage here. There were so many people up in arms about it and rightly so. We need to keep the character of the town.

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'It is not just Nuns' Bridges but the open spaces around it. We are very fortunate here and a lot of people don't realise you can walk from one end of town to another by the river.

'Visitors say they wish in their town they could do that. If you start messing up the bridge and take the character away, you are not going to get the visitors to the town.'

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford have been repaired, using the wrong brick. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Resident Jake Shannon said: 'Most houses if they were listed you would be expected or required to change them with the same bricks. It's the consistency in the approach.'

A spokesman for the county council said: 'Unfortunately, a mistake was made and the wrong bricks were used to repair Nuns' Bridge. This will be put right as soon as possible. We will provide full information, as normal, about the arrangements for these repairs when a date has been set.'

A Breckland Council spokesman said an historic buildings officer has discussed it 'at length' with NCC and had specified the building materials required for a 'sympathetic restoration of the bridge'.

There has been a crossing at the location of Nuns' Bridges since 3,000BC. It was part of The lcknield Way, believed to be the oldest road in Britain.

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford. Picture: Ian Burt

The Nuns Bridges in Thetford. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

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