Walkers and cyclists using a new bridge along a stretch of the former Lias Line railway route in south Warwickshire will be transported back in time after plans were approved at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).
The new structure will replace a brick bridge that carried the track over the A423 near Marton, about seven miles from Leamington. Since the line closed to trains it has evolved into a cycle route between Warwick and Rugby having been acquired by the charity Railway Paths in 1998.
At the latest planning committee meeting of Rugby Borough Council, councillors approved the modern steel replacement after hearing that the historic colour scheme seen on trains using the line will be incorporated. They also agreed that an information board be added to explain the history of the railway including pictures of the soon to be demolished bridge.
Planning officer Frances Keenan said: “I have done a lot of research into the railway history of Rugby. The London North Western Railway was the one that used to run along this section of the disused railway and the traditional colours were stone, cream, light brown and dark brown and those of the colours that we hope to introduce into the signage so that there is a bit of a tie to its heritage and past use.
“The applicant has also agreed to introduce the colour scheme into benches along the line as an additional extra.”
She said the applicant was also in favour of a suggestion from Cllr Bill Lewis (Lib Dem, Rokeby and Overslade) who asked: “I wonder whether an information board could be installed on the track giving some of the background of the line and maybe a photograph of the bridge to help preserve its memory?”
A number of councillors were disappointed that the bridge, described as being in a fair condition, would have to be pulled down with the cost of its removal being significantly cheaper than the ongoing repairs.
Cllr Tony Gillias (Con, Revel and Binley Woods) said: “I want to pay homage to the guys who built that because they had some skills that we’ll never see again. Unfortunately all that they’ve built will end up in a skip or rubble underneath a new building somewhere.”
Cllr Tim Willis (Con, Wolston and the Lawfords) added: “I really think we should be doing more to preserve these assets. This is the second planning committee in a row where we are booking at potentially losing a bridge - if we lose one at every planning committee that’s not many years left in terms of those bridges.”
Councillors were informed that the A423 will have to be closed for around two weeks when work is carried out and, during this time, it is hoped to tackle flooding problems beneath the bridge due to a dip in the road.