THE Friends of Alton Station are reviving their bid to bring back its historic footbridge.

Built in 1892 and believed to be one of just three entirely wooden Victorian station footbridges left in the world, until 2014 it was also the only one over a public railway line still in use – but a new bridge with lifts left it facing demolition.

The Friends were about to complete its safe removal and start refurbishment when double disaster struck.

Committee member Pat Lerew said: “By early 2020 an agreement had been reached with Network Rail that the bridge would be removed from the station and taken away to be refurbished, in the hope it could then be brought back to be sited again at the station.

“The agreement with Network Rail was that the bridge would not be demolished but would be removed with care so that as much of the old structure as possible could be re-used. The Friends made a payment of £35,000 to Network Rail to cover the extra cost.

“The team employed by Network Rail to remove the bridge did not appear to know the difference and smashed everything but the main span to pieces despite the remonstrations of onlookers. Even the main span was cut too short on one side, which means additional expense.

“All this happened on March 7, 2020. Before we could pressurise Network Rail to return the wasted £35,000 to cope with the increased costs of refurbishment, the pandemic took over the news and no-one wanted to hear about preserving historic monuments.

“The Friends are now looking forward to resuming contact with all the people who helped us during our campaign to save the bridge. We will be starting fundraising again and hope to attract more volunteers to help rebuild the bridge.

“We hope eventually to restore Alton’s footbridge to its 1894 covered state.”

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