Rutland resident, Ron Simpson, discusses A6003 bridge in Manton
Have you seen it? What do you think? I have been over it and under it but I am still not sure.
Is it not finished? Am I jumping the gun? Is my concern uncalled for? I really do hope so.
Driving in Europe and particularly on the French motorways, one is entertained and amused by the sheer elegance and originality of many of them. Often there is a theme or they bear a motif, sculpture or sporting symbol in wrought iron. Some of the larger ones are internationally famous.
In the UK, our history and engineering heritage confirms that we have numerous magnificent examples across roads, rivers and valleys. Many are specifically designed for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists or trains. Some are small. Others are huge. A special few carry H2O. Usually, their designers have looked at the context in determining their final form and construct. Beautiful valleys are enhanced. Waterways are crossed. Engineering challenges are overcome. Strategic routes are completed.
World famous exemplars can be found around the globe with images of the most magnificent finding their way onto the face of stamps or sourcing a learned piece of literature. The most celebrated find their way into love stories and murder mysteries. Some have caused the death of many when required to build them. Others have been the creator of employment way beyond their construction years. Many we take for granted as just being there. At some we marvel at their beautiful construction.
I talk, of course, about bridges, big and small. With so many wonderful examples enhancing local landscapes, one wonders what went wrong in Rutland when the railway authorities decided that the railway bridge over the A6003 between Oakham and Uppingham required replacement.
Call me outspoken, but I believe we have been insulted with potentially the most ugly bridge construction in the UK. While the load bearing beams are plain but functional, with no hint of a whimsy or feature of note, the supporting pillars of mixed materials look like they were cobbled together in a competition against the clock. If the resulting current patchwork quilt (pictured) is to be the final appearance, then the county has been allocated an eyesore.
The A6003 is a primary commercial and domestic route passing through beautiful countryside and connecting the two community lungs of Rutland, its market towns. The railway bridge in question is touched by our primary tourist attraction, the walking and cycling route around Rutland Water.
Why could the traumatic three months of road closure suffered by so many not have left us with a better inheritance? I despair. Who approved the design? Did they look at the context? Did they understand how proud we all are of Rutland? Why do we not have something befitting our county and the countryside? Do they not care, or do we blame the budget again?
Next time you are passing under the bridge, drive slowly. Note the mish mash of stone and brickwork that could, at the very least, have had a unifying surface treatment applied. Rutland deserves better. Bridges can be a thing of beauty. Engineering reputations have been built on them. All the expectations built up during the road closure have been dashed. A blot has been created on an important tourism route.
Is it important? Does anyone care? Yes, I do, and I believe many others do too! Preserving the beauty and environment of Rutland should be at the core of our planning for the future. It is very disappointing that the railway authorities do not appear to have engaged with this vision.