Temporary bridge installed over the River Cam in the heart of Cambridge

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The bridge over the River Cam (Photos: Barnes Construction)

A temporary bridge has been installed over the River Cam to enable construction work to start on the restoration and extension of the River Wing and North Passage at Clare College in Cambridge.

The 57-metre long bridge, which was built and craned into place by Mabey, now sits between the Garret Hostel Bridge and Clare College Bridge: the oldest bridge in Cambridge. This means that for the first time since the 1960s, the Middle River of the Cam between mill pond weir and Jesus Green weir has ten bridges, rather than nine.

Now this phase is complete, plant, and machinery can access the Master’s Garden at the back of Old Court, the heart of Clare College, to start work in earnest.

The project team for the multi-million-pound scheme includes Barnes Construction as the main contractor, London architects, Witherford Watson Mann and Cambridge-based businesses, Smith and Wallwork who is the structural engineer, and Henry Riley, who is the cost consultant and client project manager.

The work being carried out includes refurbishing the existing lower ground floor kitchen area of Old Court and extending the River Wing and North Passage, which sits along the boundary with Trinity Hall College.

The work is particularly sensitive because of its historic significance and construction is being monitored by Historic England.

Matthew Ramplin is Contracts Manager for Barnes Construction and explained: “Due to the tight constraints of the site and the historic significance of the adjacent buildings, the best option was to install a temporary bridge that enables us to get the plant and equipment across the River Cam that we need to help us with the construction work.

“We will now be moving onto the next phase, repointing the external brickwork on the River Wing wall that faces the courtyard and cutting a three-metre opening to allow access so that we can carry out the internal demolition.”

When completed in late summer 2022, the inside of the River Wing will have been reconfigured, and a new three-storey extension will have been created where it adjoins the existing main college building, to house a new servery area, toilet and disabled facilities, as well as a lift and fire escapes.

Barnes Construction supplied an interesting video of the bridge and college project…

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