New bridge will provide link to Rotherham’s past, present and future

The new Forge Island bridge being built in the factory
The new Forge Island pedestrian bridge being assembled

The team delivering the flagship Forge Island development in Rotherham got a first look at progress of the manufacturing of a new pedestrian bridge earlier this month.

The bridge will offer a vital connection from the town centre to the new family-friendly leisure destination – as well as link to the town’s incredible engineering heritage. 

The 46m metre-long bridge is currently being constructed in North Yorkshire before being installed on site in June and will become a key element of the new landmark place which is being delivered by nationwide placemaker, Muse, in partnership with Rotherham Council.

The design takes inspiration from the world-famous Bailey Bridge; a portable, steel truss bridge designed and developed by Rotherham-born civil engineer, Donald Bailey, which was used by the military throughout Europe during the Second World War.

The Bailey Bridge was a feat of engineering; lightweight and simple to erect without the use of tools, but also strong enough to withstand huge weights including military vehicles. It has secured a place in history as one of the most important engineering and technological advances of WWII – playing a major role in helping Allied Forces to victory. Bailey Bridges have continued to be used extensively in civil engineering construction projects across the world, often to provide temporary crossings for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

The new bridge offers a contemporary take on the original design to create a permanent structure for the town. It was designed by FaulknerBrowne Architects and is being fabricated and manufactured by SH Structures, specialists in the design and manufacture of complex steel structures.

The diamond truss steel design that is synonymous with Bailey Bridges will be clad with red/brown perforated steel panelling that tonally matches the colour of planned Forge Island buildings and celebrates history of the area, which originated as a steel forge in the 19th century. It will also be illuminated at night to make a stunning visual feature of the unique structural elements of the Bailey Bridge.

The bridge will provide pedestrians and cyclists with an eye-catching crossing from the town centre to the new landmark destination which will feature a mix of independent eateries alongside boutique cinema operator, The Arc and national hotel chain, Travelodge, all set within attractive new public realm.

Andrew Fairest, Project Director at Muse, said: “It’s fantastic to see the bridge taking shape and see how a contemporary take on the pioneering Bailey Bridge design will create something quite special at Forge Island.

“For Muse, the history of a place is an instrumental part of its story – and informs how we go about creating its next chapter. The bridge not only provides a physical link to what will be a much-needed family-friendly offer for Rotherham, but a metaphorical one to the incredible industrial heritage of this town. We’re excited to be making Forge Island a major part of Rotherham’s story once again.”

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and Economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “The bridge, which will link the heart of the town centre to the heart of the industrial past, will also pay tribute to the world-changing creativity and craft our residents have been a part of in the past – and the innovation yet to come. Once in place, the bridge will be the key thoroughfare between the incredible leisure and food facilities on Forge Island and the wider town centre. I cannot wait to see this new iconic feature on the Rotherham skyline.”

Work on the £47m Forge Island – which was announced as 100% in October 2022 – started on site in November 2022 overseen by lead contractor Bowmer + Kirkland working alongside the wider project team which also includes Arup, Helm Consulting, Arcadis and re-form Landscape Architecture. Forge Island is set to open to the public in 2024.

Visit the Forge Island website here.

Published: 29th March 2023