Calls for 'truly unique' 19th century bridge to be restored and kept in Portsmouth

CONSERVATIONISTS are calling for a 'truly unique' 19th century bridge to be kept in the city where its engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was born as a 'fitting tribute.'
The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019

Thought to be the only one of its kind in the world, the cast iron bridge has been left in Fort Cumberland in Eastney since its rediscovery in 2004.

It was brought to Portsmouth after regeneration works saw the canal bridge taken down from Paddington train station in London.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Initially it wasn't considered anything special until the removal of bricks revealed a 100 foot iron structure that locked together without bolts and was identified as a bridge built by Brunel in 1838.

The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019

Now owned by Historic England, the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust (HBPT) has been placing pressure on the group to find it a worthy home.

Read More
Portsmouth called to rally and stage huge street parties for VE Day

Charlie Fraser-Fleming, chairman of the HBPT, said: 'It is the only one of its kind in the world.

'It was such an important discovery. Brunel was pioneering new techniques that had not been done before. It all fits together, it's ingenious.

The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

'It would definitely bring people into Portsmouth, it would be an excellent attraction.'

In the last year various locations in Portsmouth have been considered by Portsmouth City Council and Historic England.

At one point Gunwharf Quays was put forward, but it was ruled there was not enough space for the structure, which is around 100 feet in length, 40 feet in width and 10 feet in height.

It is thought it could cost upwards of £2m to restore and move the bridge.

The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
The Isambard Brunel bridge at Fort Cumberland. Picture: Celia Clark, December 2019
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Portsmouth council's deputy leader Councillor Steve Pitt said: 'Of course I would like to see it in Portsmouth but it's got to make sense.

'It needs a large area and these kind of things need an awful lot of money so some kind of funding would need to be in place.'

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in Britain Street, in Portsea, in 1806. He is considered one of the leading figures of the industrial revolution.

A decision from Historic England on where the bridge could go is expected in January 2020.