Repairs will restore historic Watergate Bridge to its former glory

10 November 2016

Chester’s historic Watergate Bridge will be restored to its former glory thanks to a comprehensive programme of works to repair the structure costing £500,000.

The Grade I listed bridge has been supported by scaffolding since late in 2012 and thorough investigations have been carried out to assess the condition of the bridge and its red sandstone.

The Grade I listed structure spans the A548 between Watergate Street and New Crane Street.  It forms part of the city walls and carries a footpath over the road.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The work will include a programme of masonry repairs. There are cracks through some of the balustrades and the stonework has started to ‘delaminate’ – a condition where the outer surface of the stone splits apart into thin layers and peels off.  The bridge will be waterproofed in some areas, as water is seeping through the structure after heavy rain.

“The project will also improve access to the bridge by the addition of handrails and we plan to install additional lighting on and around the bridge.

“The site is located at the junction of several busy roads so strict traffic management is essential for the duration of the work, to ensure the safety of both the public and contractors.” There has been a structure at ‘Watergate’ on the city walls since the late 11th to early 12th century.

The current arch was constructed in 1790, replacing an earlier mediaeval gate which was described at the time as ‘’dangerously ruinous’.

During the 16th and 17th centuries Watergate was, as its name suggests, a main gateway to the quay of what was the largest, most important seaport in the region.  The River Dee reached right up to Watergate for goods to be unloaded and transported up the hill into the city.

Ultimately the River Dee silted up and the area to the west was developed, so Watergate lost its link to the river.

As a Scheduled Monument, all repair work at Watergate Bridge is being carried out under the guidance of Historic England. The work is planned to finish in May 2017.

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