Engineering feats up for latest awards in heritage

Riversway Festival at Preston Marina
Riversway Festival at Preston Marina
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TWO remarkable civil engineering sites in Preston have been nominated for a newly-established heritage award

The 124-year-old Albert Edward Dock and the Old Tram Bridge in Avenham Park which dates from 1803, are both in the running.

Traffic Regulations Poster, Preston 1892
Issued for the opening of the Albert Edward Dock. June 15, 1892

Traffic Regulations Poster, Preston 1892 Issued for the opening of the Albert Edward Dock. June 15, 1892

Both were built by some of Britain’s most notable civil engineers. The Institution of Civil Engineers North West has introduced the new award this year to celebrate historic civil engineering features that people and communities know and love . The new award will complement the Institution’s annual awards which are already held to showcase the best of the region’s new civil engineering work.

With its basin measuring 3,000 feet by 600 feet, Preston’s Albert Edward Dock was the largest enclosed dock in Europe when it opened in 1892. The outline design was proposed by Sir John Coode who became the 28th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. And the docks depended on earlier work to straighten and deepen 14 miles of the River Ribble’s channel to improve navigation – work led from 1837 by Robert Stevenson and his son David Stevenson, who are perhaps best known for their work building lighthouses around Scotland and the Isle of Man.

The Albert Edward Dock achieved a notable “first” in 1948 when it became the first dock to introduce roll-on/roll-off ferry transport. It ceased trading as a port in 1981 and is now used as a marina for pleasure craft.

The Old Tram Bridge was originally a timber trestle bridge designed for a horse-drawn tramway that linked the Lancaster Canal in Preston with the Lancaster Canal at Walton Summit. The original bridge was designed by John Rennie Senior, a Scottish civil engineer whose work included designing several famous bridges in London including London Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Southwark Bridge, and many docks including London’s East India and West India Docks.

Preston Marina at Riversway Docklands

Preston Marina at Riversway Docklands

Use of the tram road ceased in 1860 and a hundred years later it was decided to replace it with a modern bridge designed to look as much like the original as possible but using reinforced concrete and pre-stressed concrete beams. The bridge is now used by pedestrians and cyclists.

Chris Hudson, Chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Lancashire Branch, commented today: “These are both remarkable local landmarks deserving of recognition. The Albert Edward Dock underlines Preston’s historical importance in economic terms, and also shows how a heritage asset can be put to excellent use for leisure and regeneration purposes. And the Old Tram Bridge is a great piece of heritage in its own right, but also gives Preston a connection to John Rennie, one of the greatest civil engineers known to history.”

The winners will be announced during a special Awards Dinner in Carlisle on Friday.

Albert Edward Dock, Preston. Aerial Image c.1968

Albert Edward Dock, Preston. Aerial Image c.1968