Work to start on historic Great Yarmouth bridge

Campaigner Miriam Kikis was last night celebrating the 'fantastic news' that work to save Great Yarmouth's historic Vauxhall bridge is to start on Monday.

The Yarmouth restaurateur has been tirelessly leading the fight to restore the grade two listed bridge, which connects Asda and the station to North Quay, for more than three years.

And with engineers announcing their arrival next week, she said: 'It has been a real community effort to get to this point and for me it is a dream come true.'

The first phase of the scheme, costing �632,000, has been funded to the tune of �365,000 by Fair Shares National Lottery cash.

There have also been a host of smaller donations, including money from Asda, Norfolk county and Yarmouth borough councils and the Railway Heritage Trust.

Mrs Kikis, who runs the Seafood Restaurant with her husband Chris by the bridge, said: 'My customers have also been very generous providing more than �9,000 in donations. The Bensley family who have been coming to my restaurant for more than 20 years gave me �60 in cash and I am just about to collect �500 from the offshore company Fugo.'

She said she hoped the sight of engineers starting work would encourage other companies and people to make donations as a second phase of the project still needed to be funded.

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The structure, first opened in 1852 and described as a 'rare survival of a wrought-iron railway bridge', forms an important gateway to the town and provides a vital pedestrian and cycle link. However, it has been left to decay in recent years and a shadow hung over its future until Mrs Kikis launched her determined efforts to save it.

Over a two-week period, engineers will be carrying out trial works on the northern - Asda - side of the bridge to gauge the full extent of repairs required before the restoration begins in mid August. The work will take place from the river banks and off barges underneath the bridge; the river will be kept open to vessels during this period.

The phase one work will include full refurbishment of the eastern span including deck support beams, box girders and lattice arch; new protective paint; a new deck for the footway/cycleway to be re-routed over the eastern span; improved lighting and improvement to the bridge approaches.

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