Willes Road bridge gets a facelift

Standing by the restored coat of arms  are (from left) county and town councillor  Sarah Boad, engineer Shane Plumridge, Cllr Peter Butlin, county portfolio holder for transport and planning,  and county councillor Nicola Davies.
Standing by the restored coat of arms are (from left) county and town councillor Sarah Boad, engineer Shane Plumridge, Cllr Peter Butlin, county portfolio holder for transport and planning, and county councillor Nicola Davies.

A bridge more than 185 years old – which carries traffic on one of Leamington’s busiest roads over the River Leam – has been restored.

The work on the Willes Road bridge, which is Grade II-listed, took five months and cost £125,000.

The three-span arch bridge was found to be in a poor condition during a routine bridge inspection, with unstable and heavily weathered stone parapets that had eroded away completely in some locations.

Stonework was replaced and renovations carried out on some of the structure’s original architectural features.

The work was carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s bridge maintenance team.

Warwick District Council conservation officers and the Leamington Society were consulted to agree the design of the original architectural features and a firm of specialist stonemasons was used.

The bridge was commissioned in 1827 by Edward Willes of the Newbold Comyn Estate and it was improved in 1876, which is when it is thought that it was crowned on each side by a bronze falcon, the badge of the house Willes, as well as a carving of the Willes family coat of arms on the eastern parapet.

The original coat of arms was heavily eroded with its lower half missing completely and extensive research was undertaken to determine its original appearance. The falcons that have been missing from the bridge for over 30 years have been replaced by replica resin falcons erected on the central piers of the parapets.

Cllr Peter Butlin, county portfolio holder for transport and planning, said: “The bridge is an integral part of the local landscape.”

While Cllr Nicola Davies, ward member for Leamington North, said: “I am sure residents will agree that the work has been carried out to a very high standard.”