Repairs to Northgate steps begin

21 April 2016

Work to repair and rebuild the steps at Northgate in Chester has started.

The steps had been propped since 2011 after a series of surveys found the structure was moving and further monitoring was needed.

Investigation work discovered that the steps were built over a soft Roman rampart and more solid foundations were needed. The steps will be carefully dismantled and rebuilt, under archaeological supervision, on a new piled foundation to allow the existing propping to be removed.

New handrails and lighting will also be added to improve access to the walls, together with waterproofing to protect the wall core.

To allow the work to be carried out a section of the city walls from Morgan’s Mount to the Northgate Bridge will be closed.

Work may need to be suspended from time to time for consultation with archaeologists and Historic England, and to make any necessary modifications to the design of the new foundations. 

The ‘North Gate’ was once the site of a complex structure consisting of towers, a gaol and dungeon. It was in use for 700 years and demolished in 1808.  The construction of the new classical gate, designed by Thomas Harrison, began the same year.  It appears that the steps were a later addition to the design and they were first mentioned in a city guidebook in 1828.

Councillor Brian Clarke, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Infrastructure, said: “Residents and businesses on Water Tower Street and King Street have been advised of these works and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience while the work is carried out.  

“It will be difficult to be certain about how long the works will take because of buried archaeology, which will only come to light as the steps are dismantled. However, it is expected that the work will be complete by the end of October.”

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