The town of Workington in Cumbria has been reunited with the opening of a new footbridge after last month’s devastating floods, which split the town in two.
Barker Crossing, which crosses the River Derwent, was named after PC Bill Barker, who lost his life the Northside Bridge collapsed as he directed traffic away from it.
The temporary 170ft footbridge was constructed by a mixed team made up of a local army unit, 42 Brigade, the Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Signals and Royal Military Police.
The devastating power of the floods had meant that the only way locals were able to cross the river was by train and some children faced trips of hours to get to school.
Sadiq Khan, the Transport Minister, said: “The installation of this footbridge is a vital step in reuniting the local community and helping them to recover from the devastating flooding.”
Gillian Spokes, deputy headmistress of Victoria Junior School, commended the efforts of the Army. “The Army have been brilliant in the last month. Jerry Lafferty [Squadron Sergeant Major of 3 Armoured Engineer Squadron] has taken the children down to the bridge site and told them how it will be strong enough for a tank to pass over, which obviously delighted them. He’s also come in today to do a Q&A session at assembly. The new bridge has actually helped to build bridges in the community.”
Brigadier Bill Aldridge, Commander 42 (North West) Brigade, said: “We are very pleased to have been asked to help the civilian authorities and assist the local community in Workington with constructing this bridge across the River Derwent.
“The Army is very much part of society and part of the fabric of Cumbria, where my brigade is based, and we are determined to do what we can, where appropriate, and in partnership with the civilian agencies, to assist in the recovery from these devastating floods.”
Bill Rammell, the Minister for the Armed Forces, said: “The Armed Forces were able to play their part in the magnificent rescue effort by the emergency services during the flooding, and I am very pleased that they will be able to make a further important contribution as the country helps people in Cumbria start to rebuild their communities after the devastation they suffered.”