The challenging restoration job undertaken by Network Rail on the Chelsea railway bridge across the River Thames was marked on Tuesday 26 April by the formal unveiling of the plaque awarded at the 2015 National Railway Heritage Awards.
The bridge was last refurbished in 1990 but in March 2013 work started on a two-and-a-half year project, completed in the late summer of 2015, to conserve all the bridge’s remaining original features whilst at the same time strengthening and refurbishing the structure.
The work saw the complete stripping back of the metal components of the arches and deck to permit inspection for corrosion and then repainting. Where damaged or corroded metalwork was identified, this was carefully plated over to match the bridge’s existing features. The major new work was the installation of discreet strengthening elements to the trough deck, the modification to the connection between the arch ribs and deck and the renewal of the cleats in the trusses. The complex nature of the structure, its location and the necessity of ensuring that train services were not disrupted all added to the many challenges of the project.
The award was announced at the NRHA ceremony held on Wednesday 2 December with the actual unveiling being undertaken by Paul Kirk, Chairman of the National Rail Contractors Group, on Tuesday 26 April.