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Rope Bridge Recovery Rescues Scheduled Monument

AmcoGiffen and supply partner Vertex, retrieved a damaged rope bridge from the river to protect Scheduled Monument.

During Storm Babet in October 2023, unprecedented river levels ripped Ilam Park’s rope bridge from across the 15-20-metre-wide River Manifold. Fallen trees and other debris had accumulated under the bridge, but it was still attached to footings and anchors at either end, leaving it ‘hanging’ on the bank and blocking three-quarters of the river. 

The debris from the damaged rope bridge could have posed a threat to the river habitat and St Bertram’s Bridge, a Scheduled Monument located a short distance downstream. The National Trust, who own and manage the land, approached AmcoGiffen for help and advice about how to clear the damaged rope bridge from the river.

The recovery of the bridge exceeded AmcoGiffen’s direct capabilities, and the help of a specialist river and rope access company was required to assist. Supplier, Vertex agreed to carry out the work free of charge to support AmcoGiffen’s social value strategy.

The project team visited the site to assess the risks and plan the work. The site of the rope bridge is around one kilometre from vehicle access. In addition, the river and the land on either side are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) so that also needed to be taken into consideration when planning the work. The National Trust had to obtain formal consent from Natural England to work on the protected area. As soon as consent was granted the start date was arranged.

The retrieval of the rope bridge was not straightforward with hidden debris not visible during the planning stage. This meant work had to stop until the team agreed on the best way forward and ensured all the necessary risks were assessed.


The failed rope bridge
Removing the debris

A spokesperson from the National Trust, said:

This was a complex job owing to the river levels, ground conditions, adjacent SSSI land and the Scheduled Monument of St Bertram’s Bridge located downstream. Not only did the AmcoGiffen team remove the damaged bridge as we’d hoped, but they also dealt with a significant amount of debris, including the concrete abutments that had been dragged into the river by the power of the water. Now that the rope bridge has been removed and the debris cleared, we know that both the riverbed and St Bertram’s Bridge will be safe from damage. Our sincerest thanks go to AmcoGiffen and Vertex for their help and expertise.

AmcoGiffen Works Manager, Dave Timlin, said:

I had already started conversations with National Trust to understand if there was scope to use our skills, capabilities and community impact days with them in the future. When they got in touch asking for urgent specialist help to protect the Scheduled Monument we had to try and help. Our excellent relationships with our supply chain meant that we could call upon Vertex, a specialist, qualified sub-contractor who was more than happy to get involved. We worked together with Vertex and National Trust to plan safe and efficient access to the river, retrieval of the rope bridge and removal of debris, which we managed to achieve, despite the additional and hidden debris we found during the work.

Managing Director at Vertex, Jon Hawkridge, said:

We understand the importance of social value to our client AmcoGiffen having been involved in various community impact days already - so we were more than happy to assist with this plea for specialist help.  Despite challenging weather and an increase in the debris to be cleared, we were able to complete the work problem-free and the knowledge that we helped protect the Scheduled Monument gave the whole team a sense of pride.

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