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Rochester Bridge Trust bids to remove inaccurate plaque from bridge

By Jade Edwards

The organisation that looks after the Old Rochester Bridge wants to remove a plaque, as it is incorrect.

The Rochester Bridge Trust, which manages and pays for the upkeep of the crossings, has applied for planning permission to remove the commemorative bronze plaque from underneath a lion statue at the Rochester end of the Grade II-listed structure.

According to the application, the plaque “has been found to contain incorrect information” and as it cannot be corrected it needs to be removed.

Rochester Old Bridge

Rochester Old Bridge

It is not known what is wrong with the plaque.

Originally, the old bridge carried two-way traffic and the footway next to the lion was open to the public, so they could see the plaque.

Now the footpath is closed and there is no pedestrian crossing for visitors to use to get to it.

The trust argues the plaque is in a dangerous place. They want to remove it and put it in a more suitable location, safer for pedestrians, next to another plaque which clarifies the error.

A bridge has crossed the River Medway at this point since Roman times, but has been repaired and restored over the centuries.

The current bridge, which was completed in 1914, carries two lanes of traffic from Rochester to Strood.

The trust also wants to reinstall four decorative bronze lion heads on the crossing. They had been taken down as they were frequently hit by vehicles.

The plaque on the Old Rochester Bridge

The plaque on the Old Rochester Bridge

But the trust has decided to put them back up in a different place so the public can see them. They will be cleaned before being put up.

The trust has also applied for permission to improve lighting, strengthen the bridge and install netting.

KentOnline's sister paper the Medway Messenger has contacted the trust for a comment.

Tim Belcher-Whyte of Bridge Engineer Arcadis, said: "Some years ago, the lion heads were removed from the porticoes above the roadway on the Old Bridge because they were in danger of being damaged by passing lorries. The heads are currently in storage.

'Pedestrians have to walk across a busy road to be able to read the plaque, which includes some incorrect historical information' - Tim Belcher-Whyte of Bridge Engineer Arcadis

"This application regards the potential installation of the heads on the smaller arches by the ship’s passage.

"The plaque in question is at the Rochester end of the bridge.

"Pedestrians have to walk across a busy road to be able to read the plaque, which includes some incorrect historical information. It is proposed to remove this for the interests of safety and accuracy."

The plaque currently states: “The Romans built a bridge of masonry on this site during their occupation of Britain which stood until 960 AD when it was rebuilt in timber by the Anglo-Saxons.

“In 1264 AD this was destroyed by fire and rebuilt but in 1281 AD. It was washed away by floods.

“In 1344-5 the bridge was again restored but proved inadequate for the increasing traffic.

“In 1388 a substantial bridge of stone was built by Sir Robert Knolles and Sir John De Cobham which lasted until 1856 when it was replaced by one of cast iron from the design of Sir William Cubitt M.I.C.E.

“That bridge having proved insufficient for navigation and modern road traffic was rebuilt in steel and granite in 1914 from the design of Arthur Cameron Hurtzig and John James Robson M.M.INST: C.E.”

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