One of Ruddington’s railway landmarks is set for a little TLC this week – to make sure it remains safe for the increasing number of pedestrians who now use it.
‘Fifty Steps Bridge’ over the Great Central Railway line was constructed well over a century ago (circa 1899) and still survives as a functioning footbridge to this day. This is despite the passenger line beneath it becoming a victim of Dr Richard Beeching’s cuts in 1963, and nearby Ruddington Station subsequently being demolished. Goods trains continued to pass along this line until its closure in 1969. Now, of course, this section of track is back in use as a Nottinghamshire tourist attraction, accommodating heritage trains run from Ruddington to Loughborough by volunteers from The Great Central Railway Nottingham (GCRN).
These days maintaining the footbridge as a public right of way rests with Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) who took on responsibility for the structure when Rushcliffe Country Park was created. Last year the Council gave the stretch of footpath which links Fifty Steps Bridge to Vicarage Park a brand new, all weather surface – for the benefit of walkers using it to get the the Country Park but also for the hundreds of residents from the new Pasture Lane housing to walk to our village centre. For most, this footbridge is their shortest way through, so its use has increased further. At the time, Sue Zawodniak commented: “Does anyone know if the bridge will receive any maintenance work? Some of the steps look quite rotten at the fixings!”
The Council evidently agreed, announcing that Via East Midlands will carry out maintenance work this Friday 24th May. NCC Rights of Way Officer James Hatchett has informed RUDDINGTON.info the footbridge will need to be closed for around five to six hours, from about 9.00am. Workers will be replacing rotten timber tread boards and at least two missing anti-slip covers.
He is keen to stress that the work is merely to make the structure safe and that no cosmetic improvements will be made. Nevertheless NCC is open to the idea of heritage railway volunteers repainting the footbridge in its original colours to bring it back to its former glory. GCRN Director Phil Stanway responded: “We would certainly be happy to discuss this with Notts County Council but, due to the issues caused by the vandalism last month, it is unlikely that we would have the volunteer capacity or available funds to facilitate this in the foreseeable future.”
During the footbridge closure this Friday, pedestrians from the Pasture Lane estates will need to access our village centre via the new Clifton Road footpath instead.