Engineers 'worked day and night' to restore Exmoor's Tarr Steps bridge in six days
Engineers who restored Exmoor's iconic Tarr Steps clapper bridge have been praised for "working day and night" to get the job done.
The ancient bridge on the fast-flowing River Barle was washed away during floods at the end of December.
Yesterday the river crossing was reopened after engineers spent just six days piecing together the multi-stoned bridge.
The work, carried out by contractors Crestmoor in partnership with Somerset County Council, cost around £10,000. Building a a viable alternative modern bridge would have cost £500,000.
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Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “It is fantastic the bridge has been put back so quickly and I would like to thank the team of workers for their hard work.
“Although it has been an extremely difficult week for them working day and night to get the job done, I know how they feel about Tarr Steps and they have regarded it very much as a privilege rather than a chore.
“The bridge is an enduring and iconic feature of the Exmoor landscape and is very much a honeypot for visitors to Exmoor as well as a major contributor to the local economy drawing in people from all over the country to come and stay in the area.”
Another guest at yesterday's opening ceremony was retired Royal Navy engineer Christopher Cross, who helped rebuild the bridge after the 1952 floods.
Mr Cross travelled to the ceremony with wife Sheila from their home in Hampshire, and he said: “Back in 1952 it took about 50 people over two months to rebuild the bridge as all the lifting had to be done by hand.
“There was no machinery or cranes. We camped out by the side of the bridge and we had one sheet with a sketch on which was our plan and we placed the stones back according to their shape and size.”
An upstream ‘tree protection boom’ made of steel wires was also replaced and improved as part of the scheme.