South Yorkshire historic military bridge makes final journey
A military bridge, believed to be the last of its kind situated near the M180 near Scunthorpe has been removed by A-one+ for renovation.
The ‘Inglis Bridge’ designed by Charles Inglis during World War 1 came into active service in 1916. The bridge was the first multi-use component built bridging system taken into service by Royal Engineers and was widely used throughout both world wars. The bridge was designed for swift assembly from footbridge to be capable of carrying heavy military supplies and traffic. The system became the forerunner of the more commonly known Baily Bridge and other equipment taken into use by the military and civil engineers throughout the world.
The bridge in question was installed to form access to RAF Sandtoft, a Second World War airfield, sometime in 1943/44. The bridge, thought to be the last known surviving Mark 1 version was set over a 7m wide watercourse to the north of the M180 in South Yorkshire. It has not been in use since the end of the Second World War was the responsibility of Highways England but has been handed over to the Royal Engineers Association at the Army base in Nottingham. A partial segment of the bridge will be sent to the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent when renovations are completed.
The removal was a complex and delicate operation and we wanted to make sure that the elements of the bridge remained in tact. We undertook substantial preparatory works before the lift such as; vegetation clearance, access works and installation of a temporary frame and bracing on the bridge.
On the day of lift we invited 20 retired Royal Engineers to site to witness the removal of this piece of military history. During the lift we used 200 tonnes of imported stone for the haul road and crane pad, a 400 tonne crane on the M180 for the main lift and a 35 tonne crane next to the watercourse for lifting steelwork to strengthen the structure before lift. We then split the bridge into 2 for transportation to the army base.
Highways England project manager Russell Mclean said: “This has been a fascinating project to be involved in. We were approached by the Royal Engineers Association earlier this year who were interested in renovating a segment of the bridge for their museum.
“We were only too happy to help them with their request although the removal of the bridge did prove to be difficult as the bridge has been there for a long time so we weren’t sure how the structure was going to hold when we removed it. Luckily we were able to remove a large enough segment which can now be put proudly on display in the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent.”
Jim Johnstone of Doncaster Royal Engineers Association said: “The members of the Doncaster Branch of the Royal Engineers Association have never been involved in a project of this magnitude. In collaboration with Mr James Brooke, the farmer, who kindly donated the bridge to us we feel that we are saving a piece of Corps history that otherwise would have been lost. From the members of the Branch we must also thank Highways England for the tremendous assistance given in the recovery of the bridge.”
Inglis bridges were the first modular bridges (that is a bridge which could be built, used, dismantled and built elsewhere) provided for access across rivers and gaps during the war as they could be constructed in a short space of time and could take a large amount of weight. They were usually assembled by a team of 12 men and a turntable.
Counterweight was attached to the home bank side of the pre-erected structure which was then swung across the river to the far banking area.