New Northside Bridge

In November 2009, Workington’s Northside Bridge was swept away during devastating floods in Cumbria, tragically killing PC Bill Barker who was on the bridge diverting traffic. The collapse of the landmark bridge effectively split the town in two, resulting in an 18-mile round trip to get from one end of Workington to the other.

Customer Name

Department of Transport. Leada Acrow worked alongside contractors Birse Civils and Mabey Bridge, the supplier of the steel beams.

Project Location

Workington, Cumbria


Complete construction project valued at £11.17 million


50+ weeks

Following the collapse, the Army erected a temporary footbridge - named ‘Barker’s Crossing’ in memory of Bill Barker - and this was dismantled to allow for a multi-million pound construction of Northside Bridge.

The Challenge

The works involved the fabrication and construction of a 152m three-span composite steel/concrete highway bridge, being erected in the same position as the former structure over the River Derwent. The bridge reinstated pedestrian, vehicular and cycle access along the A597, which provides the main highway link to Workington from outlying areas. 

The structure was supported on concrete piers with bored pile foundations and was clad in sandstone, similar to that used on the original structure with reclaimed stone along the original structure wherever possible. Sandstone blocks were actually recovered from the collapsed structure of the bridge and stored for re-use in the replacement. This project was of particular interest as there was a specially fabricated formwork end ‘bull nose’ which had to be incorporated into the design so the abutment could be cast as one.

The Solution

Leada Acrow was awarded the work for the supply of the formwork for the pier bases and produced detailed schemes for the north and south abutments. Following several visits to site, the Leada Acrow Sales and Engineering Team devised a bespoke formwork solution primarily based on the ESS21 Parapet Support System, enabling construction of the bridge with a curve on plan and elevation with inclined soffit on the cantilever.

As there was no lay down area on the site where the tables for the bridge deck cantilevers could be built, it was agreed that Sword Construction could build all the tables in the yard at the Leada Acrow site in Glasgow and tag the tables with a code number. Sword Construction came to Glasgow with a programme of two weeks to finish the tables ready for the delivery timetable required. With the aid of two yard staff and a forklift for their use they completed the tables in just one week, facilitating a significant cost saving for the table assembly.

All deliveries to site were made first thing in the morning, to allow as much time as possible for the team to get the tables fully rigged out and connected to the bridge steel ready for lifting into place. The parapet formwork for the bridge set the forms and cast the concrete. The bridge cantilever formwork was erected to provide access along each edge and allow the sequential pours to be carried out. The design called for loads to be applied from the new deck in a precise process to ensure stability whilst the structure was under construction.

Our Slimlite Soldiers and Mammut Panels were used in combination with a purpose built bull nose form to construct the piers. The ESS21 framework supported Super A Beams to form table units to be craned into place. The system was completed using either EPS mesh barrier guard railing of a vertical soldier or timber screen over live traffic roads.

The Results

Leada Acrow played a key role in facilitating construction of this new structure, which was opened in October 2012 by Princess Anne. Since construction, the new Northside Bridge has won praise at a number of UK construction and engineering awards. 

It earned national recognition after being named winner of the ‘Public Sector Project’ category at the Builder and Engineer Awards 2013. It also won 'Best Project in the Cumbria Sub Region' Award and was Highly Commended for the ’Best Project of the Year’ Award at the North West Regional Construction Awards.

This has been a highly complex project that has been delivered on time and on budget thanks to a lot of hard work by the teams involved.

Alan Webb, Project Manager, Capita
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