HISTORIC Willes Road Bridge in Leamington is looking its very best again.
A £125,000 resoration of the grade II-listed bridge has just been completed by Warwickshire County Council’s Bridge Maintenance Team.
A routine inspection found the three span masonry arch bridge in urgent need of repair with unstable and heavily weathered stone parapets which had eroded away completely in parts.
A five month project has seen the unsafe and eroded stonework replaced and the rennovation of some of the bridges original architectural features to ensure the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.
The bridge was commissioned in 1827 by Edward Willes of the Newbold Comyn Estate and its design is attributed to the renowned architect John Nash whose work also includes the remodelling of Buckingham Palace, the design of Marble Arch, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and the layout of much of Regency London.
The bridge was improved in 1876 which is when it is thought it was crowned on each side by a bronze falcon – the badge of the house Willes, as well as a carving of the Willes family coat of arms on the eastern parapet.
The original coat of arms was heavily eroded with its lower half missing completely and extensive research was undertaken to determine its original appearance.
The falcons which have been missing from the bridge for over 30 years have now been replaced by replica resin ones erected on the central piers of the parapets.
Warwick District Council conservation officers and members of the Leamington Society were consulted to agree the design of the original architectural features and a firm of specialist stonemasons were contracted to undertake the restoration.
Coun Nicola Davies, county council ward member for Leamington North, said: “I am delighted to see the repair work on the historic Willes Bridge completed. I am sure local residents will agree that the work has been carried out with great care and to a very high standard. ”