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The importance of preserving Corporation Bridge for future generations

12:16 pm, Friday, 10th March 2023

“Corporation Bridge is one of Grimsby’s survivors and a reminder of our town’s great maritime past,” says David Ornsby, operations manager at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre and part of the Special Interest Group for Corporation Bridge.

“The bridge is one of the best examples of its kind and was built by one of the most renowned engineering firms in Britain. William Arrol is famous for the Arrol Gantry that housed the RMS Titanic during its construction, and as the builders of the Forth Bridge, the Tay Bridge, Tower Bridge and of Grimsby’s Corporation Bridge. It is wonderful to see this special structure being preserved to tell part of Grimsby’s story for future generations to enjoy.”

Alan Nicholson, chair of the Grimsby, Cleethorpes & District Civic Society, added: “Corporation Road Bridge is an iconic structure, and a well-known feature in the town. Its mechanism is a rare example of a lifting bridge, and it is an asset to the town. We are pleased to support this work to restore part of our industrial heritage.”

A site visit sees a group of people on the bridge walking.

Corporation Road Bridge is a Grade 2 listed structure owned by North East Lincolnshire Council. It is on the ‘at risk’ register for listed structures due to its deteriorating condition, and the ongoing major restoration works are vital to maintain and protect the bridge for the future. This scheme will enable us to secure the bridge’s long-term future and enhance a key heritage asset within Grimsby’s Heritage Action Zone.

Due to its age, materials, and the aggressive environment, many elements of the structure are deteriorating. If this is allowed to continue, the integrity of the bridge will be threatened, both structurally and historically. If these works are not carried out, it may be necessary to carry out a loading assessment, which may lead to a weight limit to protect the structure and road users in the future.

Funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) has been specifically ringfenced for these works.

The full restoration will include key structural works, as well as improvements to the aesthetic changes to the bridge.

Some of the key works include:

  • Replacement of all corroded rivets
  • Replacing steel deck plates
  • Steelwork repairs
  • Replacing deteriorating carriageway panels
  • Replacing bridge bearings
  • Removing failing paint system from entire structure and repaint
  • Replacing electrical system for the lifting mechanism
  • Restoring the Control Room
  • Replacement of bridge joints
  • Resurfacing carriageway and footpath
Concrete removed from Corporation Bridge

As part of its Grade 2 listed heritage status, it is important the bridge remains functioning and the mechanics are in full operation to ensure the council is satisfying the statutory obligations. The lifting span is functional and is required by an Act of Parliament to lift upon certain requests.

The bridge is a strategic part of the highways network to keep traffic flowing and allow pedestrian and maritime access.

If left to deteriorate further, the bridge may become a barrier to future economic growth in the town, particularly if it has to be closed or weight limits imposed.

Ben Lorne, site agent for Spencer Group, said: “Corporation Bridge is an iconic Grade 2 listed building that has been a part of Grimsby’s history for almost a century. Its unique architectural and historical value makes it an important structure to preserve for future generations.

“The restoration project will be carried out with great care and attention to detail to ensure that the bridge’s historical and architectural significance is maintained. This includes repairing and replacing any damaged components while preserving its original design and character. The community will be kept informed of any updates or developments throughout the restoration process.

“In addition to preserving its historical and architectural significance, it is also important to ensure that the mechanical components on Corporation Bridge work properly for legal and safety reasons. Like many other bridges, Corporation Bridge is subject to various regulations and laws that require it to be properly maintained and kept in good working order. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in potential safety risks and disruptions to traffic. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the mechanical components on the bridge work properly to maintain its safe and efficient operation.”

Councillor Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “The council is fully aware of the local significance this bridge has and the fondness many people have for it, and we are passionate about delivering a restoration scheme that local people are proud of. Corporation Road Bridge is a key landmark in Grimsby Town Centre and the Heritage Action Zone.

“This iconic bridge needs our attention, sooner rather than later. These major restoration works are going to safeguard this landmark for future generations, and it will be a key contributor to the ongoing regeneration works in the town. We are committed to bringing the bridge back to its former glory and will continue to engage with our Special Interest Group which comprises of local heritage and historical experts.”

Spencer Group is using a local waste management company, with the aim to recycle as much as possible from the redundant materials taken from the bridge.

The Hull-based company is employing people from the local area to work on the bridge, using a local builder’s merchant and a local haulage company and they encourage their workforce to use local amenities and facilities when working on our projects. 

Works on Corporation Bridge

About Corporation Road Bridge

The structure is a cast iron and steel, electrically powered Scherzer rolling lift road bridge.

It was built in 1925 and was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1928, carrying Corporation Road over Alexandra Dock in Grimsby and was refurbished c.1980.

The watercourse is tidal and salt, which results in a very aggressive environment for the steel below deck level. The upper truss sections are more protected.

About the major restoration scheme

The Corporation Bridge restoration is a £5.117m scheme – funded by £2.967m from the Department for Transport, £1.83m set aside by the council and a further £320,000 from the Local Transport Fund. The Department for Transport funding is specifically ringfenced for these works.

Multi-disciplinary bridge works specialist Spencer Group are the appointed contractor for the works.

A full road closure will be in place for the duration of the works, with a planned reopening before Christmas 2023.

While the works take place, the bridge will be closed to all vehicles. The bridge will remain open to pedestrians, except during short periods when the bridge will need to be fully closed to allow the contractor to test the lifting mechanisms. Cyclists will need to dismount from their bikes and walk across the bridge.

Clear signage has been placed at several points, including at Lockhill roundabout, Westgate roundabout, Victoria Street South and at the Corporation Road/Pyewipe Road junction.

A diversion route is in place while the bridge is closed to traffic. Motorists wishing to cross to the west side of the bridge (Sainsbury’s side) will be directed from Westgate roundabout, along Pyewipe Road and onto Corporation Road. Larger vehicles will be asked to straddle both lanes at the traffic signals. Those heading to the east side of the bridge will be directed to Lockhill roundabout.

Motorists, including HGV traffic, are strongly encouraged to follow the official signed diversion route to minimise disruption around the network.

Traffic volumes on Alexandra Road will be monitored throughout the project and if necessary, traffic management will be considered.

If you’re interested in what is happening on Corporation Bridge and want to follow updates, visit