Volunteers restore bridge to former glory

Keith Wilkinson, secretary of the Conservation Group with local councillors Geoff Webber and Andrew Goss at Spruisty Bridge (S)
Keith Wilkinson, secretary of the Conservation Group with local councillors Geoff Webber and Andrew Goss at Spruisty Bridge (S)

A 17th century Grade II listed bridge near Harrogate has been restored after years of disrepair.

The Spruisty Packhorse Bridge in Knox has finally been returned to its former glory, making it safe for use as a pedestrian bridge again thanks to the generous work of volunteers.

In addition to local people, staff from highway maintenance contractor, Ringway Infastructure Services, donated their time, expertise and equipment for the project. Andy Ambrose, Ringway’s North Yorkshire County manager, said: “The Spruisty Packhorse Bridge community project is one of our volunteer initiatives to give back to the local community.

“It is a beautiful structure and provides important access to Knox Hamlet, so we are happy that we have been able to help restore it to its original splendour.”

The project follows a long campaign by the Bilton Conservation Group and the Knox Valley Residents Association which was repeatedly delayed due to legal and ownership disputes. These disputes were settled earlier this year when local county councillors intervened. County Councillor Geoff Webber commented, “I was delighted to be able to help get this project moving but the main credit must be given to the conservation group and the residents association.”

A further problem in getting the project underway was the Grade II listing which mean that approval was needed from English Heritage.

Mr Ambrose was impressed by the number of local volunteers who turned out to support the project and help replace the brick work.

The teams of local volunteers were joined by Andrew Jones MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, he said: “The Spruisty Packhorse Bridge is a piece of Harrogate’s history and is well-used by local people in the area. It is incredibly important that we support initiatives like the Spruisty Packhorse Bridge project and continue to protect and maintain the historical elements of our villages and the rural environment. The Ringway team and volunteers did a great job, I helped out on the day and it was hard work!”

Time capsules were created by Bilton Conservation Group and buried at either side of the bridge. They included a history of the local area and limited edition of the Queens Diamond Jubilee £5 coins; adding a piece of the village’s own history for future generations to discover.

See our website for a slideshow of the work in progress.