Damaged Skipton canal swing bridge replaced in £300,000 project

A damaged canal swing bridge has been removed in North Yorkshire to pave the way for a replacement 20-tonne steel structure.

Gawflat Swing Bridge on the Leeds Liverpool Canal was due to be replaced in May, but the £300,000 project was delayed by a global steel shortage and work eventually began on June 28.

The old bridge, at the entrance to Aireville Park in Skipton, was removed yesterday by a large crane and the replacement 
will be installed on Sunday before it opens to the public on Thursday next week.

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The Canal and River Trust said the new swing bridge will be easier to operate and more durable.

Sean McGinley, the charity’s director for Yorkshire and the North-East, said: “We apologise for inconvenience the closure will cause as we know this is an important pedestrian route for Skipton.

“We have tried to minimise the disruption as much as possible and give advance notice of the closures and the new schedule.”

He added: “We will need to close Carleton New Road on the sharp bend for two Sundays, which will allow a crane access to the site.”

The bridge, which swings open to allow boats through, was designed in the 1970s by British Waterways.

Barrie Young, who worked for the company at the time, said: “That was a standardised design which we were actually churning out.

“It’s a steel swing bridge, which is designed for relatively light traffic. It does serve a pedestrian function, but in fact its real purpose was to get vehicles across for local farmers.”

The crossing is part of a busy footpath that is used by walkers and pupils who attend Craven College and Skipton Academy.

The charity had planned to leave the bridge in the open position, after the opening mechanism was damaged in July last year, as this would allow boaters to continue using the 127-mile canal.

But it backtracked on that plan following an outcry from locals and then decided to bring in staff and volunteers to help boat owners operate the damaged bridge.