A BRIDGE in the centre of Worcester is set to be officially reopened today following the completion of vital repair work.

Contractors J Murphy & Sons Limited carried out the work on behalf of Network Rail, the owner and maintainer of Britain’s rail infrastructure, returning the Grade II listed structure to its former glory.

First built in 1860 and last replaced in 1906, the bridge, which crosses the A38, has deteriorated over the years and its overall condition meant it was placed on the council’s heritage “at risk” register.

The work undertaken by civil engineering and rail specialist J Murphy & Sons Limited for Network Rail has meant extensive repairs to the old heavy steels which make up the bridge, along with repairs to the fractured cast iron fascia and the replacement of the bridge’s drainage system.

Philip Hanson, scheme project manager, Network Rail, explained: “The Grade II listed bridge has required extensive work to maintain its structural integrity and return it to its former glory.

“This has principally involved major steel girder repairs and work to the cast iron façades which will minimise the need for further intrusive maintenance and refurbishment for a number of years to come.

“It is now a familiar and historical landmark, for which Worcester can truly be proud.”

Councillor David Wilkinson, the city council’s heritage champion, said: “I have inspected the work which has been carried out to the bridge and I am very impressed.

“The structural integrity of the bridge has been enhanced by the repairs to the steelwork and the characteristic external cladding has been completely renovated, including conservation repairs and repainting in its historic colours, which the city council’s conservation team has specified and overseen.

“I am optimistic that we can now remove the bridge from our Heritage at Risk Register.”

Tom Jackson, Murphy project manager, said: “The scope of the works proved to be significantly more detailed and wide ranging than previously thought, as after the grit blasting stage it became apparent the bridge was in a much worse condition.”