Spencer ensures a longer lifespan of mighty bridge

Spencer Group's  Stuart Langdon, Alan Milton, Daniel Smith, Ellis Jacklin, and Dave Dimbleby. Picture: Neil Holmes
Spencer Group's Stuart Langdon, Alan Milton, Daniel Smith, Ellis Jacklin, and Dave Dimbleby. Picture: Neil Holmes
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A specialist engineering group has helped safeguard the long-term structural integrity of the iconic Humber Bridge.

Hull-based specialist engineering firm Spencer Group replaced the A-frames and bearings, which had become worn over the past 34 years, with a more robust system of pendels and ‘wind shoes’, which absorb wind loading on the bridge deck.

Technical director at Spencer Group, Nick Cooper, said: “The delivery of this project gives the Humber Bridge security in its support bearing systems for many years ahead.”

Mr Cooper added that the work carried out by the group has removed the risk of a catastrophic failure.

He said: “It has removed a risk that would have required major, unplanned works and the inevitable long-term closure of the bridge, with all the serious consequences that would have had for the region’s transport infrastructure and economy.”

The bridge remained open throughout the project, including the critical periods when the bridge loads were transferred to the temporary and then permanent new supports.

Mr Cooper said that the project called on many of Spencer Group’s expertise from hydraulics to mechanics, to structures. The group also had to operate in a confined space.

“Our knowledge of different disciplines and our ability to do the detailed design related to those disciplines meant that we knew exactly what the risks were so we could mitigate and remove these in order to deliver the project successfully,” he added.

The A-frames solution was designed by Arup and implemented by Spencer.

This wasn’t the first time Spencer had worked on the Humber Bridge.

Spencer’s project manager for the contract, Daniel Smith, said: “Having previously carried out projects to inspect and then prevent corrosion of the main cables on the Humber Bridge, we are delighted to have once again delivered a vitally important maintenance scheme for such a landmark structure.”

The Humber crossing isn’t the only bridge Spencer has worked on. The group has also helped carry out work on Severn and Forth Road suspension bridges, as well as the Alvsborg Bridge in Sweden.

But working on the Humber Bridge was especially prestigious for the firm. Mr Smith said: “Spencer was founded in Hull and has its headquarters in the city, so this has been an especially prestigious project for us.

“We work across the UK and Europe, but it is particularly pleasing to have delivered such a vitally important project to maintain a world-famous crossing on our doorstep.”

The Humber Bridge A-frame project saw Spencer Group, Arup and the Humber Bridge board recently recognised at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) annual Yorkshire and Humber Awards, taking the Smeaton Award for projects worth between £500,000 and £5m.

Spencer has a £150m turnover and workforce of more than 500.