One man’s campaign to protect crumbling bridge over the Tud

John Newby, left, and Andrew Brown from Friends of Tud Valley pictured at The Red Bridge which cross

John Newby, left, and Andrew Brown from Friends of Tud Valley pictured at The Red Bridge which crosses the River Tud at Costessey. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

It is a bridge too far for Costessey.

The Red Bridge at Costessey over the River Tud, taken March 28, 1932

The Red Bridge at Costessey over the River Tud, taken March 28, 1932 - Credit: Archant

A treasured landmark for over 150 years and thought to be the first built crossing the Tud - nobody has claimed ownership of the Red Bridge.

Frustrated at the bridge falling into disrepair, local resident Andrew Brown took matters into his own hands to strip back weeds and ivy which had taken root in the cracks.

'Nobody knows who it belongs to, and the parish council keeps an eye on it but is not prepared to spend any money on it,' explained the 70-year-old.

'It was encased in ivy and vegetation to the point where it was pretty much hidden. I felt it was a shame it should be so hidden from view. 'The area is used a lot by dog walkers and is quite a focal point in the village. It was the first bridge over the Tud, and nobody is sure who built it in the first place. It is just well-known, and used by everybody. 'It was built in 1860 to a very good standard using very good materials. Previously people had to get across a ford and stepping stones to get across the river there.'

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Mr Brown has spent the last month clearing the vegetation away from the bridge and exposing the old abutments. 'A lot of the bridge has been lost through vandalism or cannibalism, and now it is a bit of a relic,' he said. 'The basic structure is still there and could be built on again.'

While Costessey Town Council own the river banks surrounding the bridge, the crossing itself is in no man's land and there are not enough funds to restore it completely.

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John Newby, Costessey town councillor and member of Friends of the Tud, stepped in to help Mr Brown when he heard his pitch.

'Nobody knows exactly who built it or who owns the bridge,' he said. 'It is thought it was probably a group of farmers who built it in the 19th century. 'Costessey Town Council owns the banks of the river along there so that is where the town council became involved. 'The suggestion about clearing some of the ivy and foliage came from Andrew Brown, and I took a report to the town council and got the agreement from them to do the work. We cleared it with the Environment Agency and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

'It is an unusual situation, and that is why the town council had some involvement in the project, but doesn't actually own the bridge. It is a well known local feature and much loved by people in the area. 'I think it is something that has been discussed in the past by the town council, but the council does not have any funding for that sort of work, so has been reluctant to consider taking ownership of the bridge. 'I would think ultimately it would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, because the bridge is not getting any younger.'

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