Date Published: 25 October 2018
An important piece of Rutland architecture has been preserved and protected following a painstaking restoration process which took more than two months to complete.
Urgent repairs to the historic Wakerley Bridge, which crosses the River Welland near Rutland’s border with Northamptonshire, were completed by Rutland County Council and specialist contractors last month.
The bridge between Wakerley and Barrowden is a Scheduled Monument and the 10-week repair programme was carried out with care to preserve and enhance what is an important piece of Rutland’s heritage.
The restoration was scheduled following an inspection which confirmed that sensitive repairs were needed to masonry throughout the structure.
Specialist stonemason, Jason Henfrey, was commissioned to undertake the repair work. Aptly known as ‘Jason the Mason’, he has decades of experience with a specialism in historic structures. His most notable project to date was the conversion of Hellifield Peel Castle near Skipton, North Yorkshire in 2007 into a domestic dwelling, which was featured on the TV programme Grand Designs.
“The Wakerley Bridge project required careful consideration to restore the structure in a way that respects its heritage and supports local ecology. Because it’s listed as an ancient monument, we didn’t use any power tools to prevent accidentally cutting into and permanently scarring the existing stone. All joints and stone were removed by hand, using a hammer and chisel. We also used lime mortar, rather than concrete, to avoid damage to the stonework. The work also included the creation of special hides for bats which have been cut into the back of new stone before being placed into the bridge. These hides replace gaps, now repaired, which bats had made their home. The new bat hides have been marked with a stone masonry mark resembling a bat.”
Jason Henfrey, Specialist stonemason
The work, which required collaboration between the Environment Agency, Historic England, Rutland County Council and Leicester County Council, was completed on schedule and the road is now reopened for vehicles and pedestrians.
“We’re grateful for everyone’s patience during the essential work on Wakerley Bridge, and to our contractors, Tarmac, for maintaining diversion routes while the bridge was closed. Repairs have been painstakingly undertaken to restore this beautiful, historic structure in a way that is sympathetic to its heritage and the local environment. We’re really pleased with the result, which showcases an important part of our local history and is a great example of the importance we place on working in partnership to conserve and enhance local assets in the best possible way.”
Councillor Lucy Stephenson, Portfolio Holder for Highways