Joggers save restored Dean Forest footbridge after arson

AN HISTORIC Severn & Wye Railway iron footbridge was targeted by arsonists only weeks after it had been lifted back into place following a £150,000 restoration project.

The 127-year-old Grade II listed St Mary’s Bridge near St Mary’s church, Bathurst Park, Lydney had been off limits for nearly 12 years on safety grounds before volunteers at the Dean Forest Railway raised the money to restore it.

Lydney bridge specialist Mabey, which had removed the structure in June, lifted it back into place on January 9, using the railway’s 61-year-old restored Joseph Booth & Bros 15-ton diesel crane.

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The Dean Forest Railway’s historic St Mary’s footbridge being craned back into place. ROB HARRIS/DFR

However, local nurse Nicola Whettam, 44, who was out running with her dog and three of her friends when they decided to take a detour over the bridge for old times’ sake, was horrified to find that a fire had been lit in a pile of wood and cardboard which had been stacked in the middle of the structure.

The group kicked the wood apart and stamped the fire out before it caused any more damage.

Read more in Issue 251 of HR – on sale now!

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Sam Hewitt