“Cultural vandalism”: Local outrage after historic Tadcaster bridge buried

Pressure is mounting to reverse the 2018 burial of a North Yorkshire Victorian railway bridge built by the first pupil of Robert Stephenson.

About 150 objections to a retrospective planning application for the £133,000 of works National Highways carried out at Rudgate Bridge, north-west of Tadcaster, have been lodged with the local authority in recent weeks, expressing outrage and accusing the company of “cultural vandalism”, says York Mix.

Many of the objectors have underlined the heritage importance of the Church Fenton to Harrogate line, which passed beneath the bridge and was one of the first casualties of the Beeching Axe.

It was constructed in the 1840s by the York and North Midland Railway under the chairmanship of George Hudson, known as The Railway King.The bridge features a skewed arch and was built by John Cass Birkinshaw, thought to be the first articled pupil of Robert Stephenson, with whom he worked on several of Yorkshire’s railways.

Planning documents submitted by National Highways state it undertook works in 2021 “to prevent a risk of harm to the public” due to deterioration of the structure and to ensure the bridge and the unclassified road running over it could continue to be used safely.

The papers state it wrote to Selby District Council three times in 2020 and 2022 about the proposed strengthening work to seek guidance on planning requirements and was told the authority “had no objections or comments to make”.

The application states, following a complaint from a member of the public, the council requested information about the bridge and that National Highways submit a retrospective planning application. However, objectors have accused National Highways of inappropriately using emergency powers to rid itself of a “liability”, saying a previous inspection in 2018 found the structure to be in a “fair” condition and suitable for a capacity of 32 tonnes.

(Pic – National Highways)


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