New bridge lifted into place at Forge Island marks major milestone for Rotherham’s new landmark leisure destination

Forge Island bridge installation
Forge Island bridge installation. (c) Reach Timelapse for B+K

A striking new pedestrian bridge has been successfully lifted into place at Forge Island in Rotherham linking the flagship development with the town centre.

The Forge Island development, part of Rotherham Council’s regeneration vision for the town centre, is being delivered in partnership with the Council, nationwide placemaker Muse and contractor Bowman + Kirkland.

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

The 46-metre-long bridge, weighing 86 tonnes, was manufactured and installed by S H Structures, specialists in the design and manufacture of complex steel structures. Over a period of two days, a crane was erected and rigged, ready for the careful installation of the bridge which took one hour, in a military precision operation watched by local residents from vantage points across the town centre.

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.

Designed by FaulknerBrowne Architects, the new bridge is a celebration of Rotherham’s engineering heritage, taking inspiration from the original design to create a contemporary permanent gateway structure for the town.

The diamond truss steel design that is synonymous with Bailey Bridges is clad with red/brown perforated steel panelling to fit with the colour of planned Forge Island buildings, another nod to the history of the area, which originated as a steel forge in the 19th century.

The bridge will be illuminated at night, to make a striking visual feature of its unique structural elements to enhance the experience of everyone who visits Forge Island.

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

Andrew Fairest, Project Director at Muse, said: “This is an important milestone for the whole Forge Island development, as we link this new waterfront destination to the Rotherham community, making sure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy what Forge Island has to offer.

“Rotherham’s engineering heritage was a wonderful starting point for the Muse team, offering a rich seam of inspiration and shaping our thinking around Forge Island. The bridge is a key part of this exciting new chapter in Rotherham’s story, linking the past with the present and future.”

Over the next few weeks, a podium is being built on site, which will elevate the scheme out of the floodplain of the River Don. Work will then begin to construct the buildings and new landscaped public spaces, including a stepped amphitheatre beside Rotherham Lock.

Rotherham Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and Economy, Cllr Denise Lelliott, said: “This major milestone not only shows that the Forge Island development scheme is forging ahead, is it also showcases a symbolic connection between Forge Island and the heart of the town centre. Once Forge Island opens, this bridge will be the main gateway from the cinema, hotel and restaurants to the rich heritage and culture of the town centre, and I am sure that my footsteps will be a few of thousands.”

Construction work on the £47m Forge Island scheme – which was announced as 100% let in October 2022 – is led by 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.

Published: 19th June 2023