Repairs to Wool Bridge begin

Repair work on a historic Dorset bridge which features in famous literature by Thomas Hardy is underway.

Wool Bridge, a Grade II-listed structure which crosses the River Frome in Wool, Purbeck, partially collapsed in January as its bricks crumbled into the river below.

The Elizabethan bridge features in Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles and, according to Historic England, is the best preserved Elizabethan bridge (dating back to the 16th century) in Dorset.

However, a bridge was first recorded to have crossed the river in 1343.

The historic crossing is linked with Woolbridge Manor, also a Grade II listed building, which also features in Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

As part of the new works, a dam has now been built in the river to allow the area around the affected section of the bridge to dry out.

Following this, damaged and fallen stonework will then be recovered as repairs begin while a temporary footbridge has also been created on the downstream side of the river for use during the works.

A spokesman for Dorset County Council said the repairs would see the bridge reopen in October.

They added that the longer-term plan for repair had to wait until summer when the conditions were better.

Initial short term repairs saw the council put 40 bags of stone in gabion baskets which support the collapsed section of the bridge.

It remains unclear what caused the bridge to collapse, however it was reported that a crack in the bridge had developed over the Christmas period – but the curved bridge’s six arches remain intact.

The bridge has also been closed to traffic for many years however it is currently used by cyclists and pedestrians.

Story by Katie Clark for the Daily Echo

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