Avenham Park’s old railway bridge is Preston’s newest romantic location

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It is not exactly the Pont des Arts in Paris - just yet.

But for sweethearts in Preston the old railway bridge in Avenham Park is becoming just as romantic a spot as the French capital to make a public declaration of undying love.

Preston's 'love bridge'

Preston's 'love bridge'

The Victorian viaduct, which has spanned the River Ribble for the past 171 years, has joined the ranks of more famous bridges around the world where couples attach their personalised “love locks” and then cast their keys into the water below.

There might only be a couple of dozen padlocks fixed to Preston’s metal bridge so far. But it is early days yet in Lancashire for a craze which took hold in France two decades ago and has now swept the globe.

Fast forward a few years and who knows? City council workmen could be cutting thousands of love locks off the old East Lancashire Railway bridge to save it from collapsing under the weight.

That has already happened on the Pont des Arts over the Seine where more than one million have had to be taken down because their combined weight of 45 tons was putting the Unesco World Heritage site in danger.

A lovers' padlock on the Ribble bridge

A lovers' padlock on the Ribble bridge

Love locks locations around the world have proved to be a magnet for couples who want to show their love is unbreakable.

But some local authorities have not shared the public’s affection with the practice, preferring to see the locks as either litter or even vandalism.

On Preston’s newly-appointed love bridge the padlocks have only been appearing over the past few months.

Appropriately one, signed by Nicola and Lewis, was fixed there on February 14 this year - Valentine’s Day. Another, bearing the names Mal and PC, is dated 25-04-17, just four days ago.

Love locks left on the Avenham bridge

Love locks left on the Avenham bridge

Amongst the others is a padlock painted a passionate red colour and inscribed with a single heart. It also has a bright red ribbon tied to it for good measure.

Tom and Amy XX is shiny and obviously new, SH and JH declare their love on another, and Frankie is the name on a padlock painted lavender.

The bridge, which once carried trains from the East Lancashire Railway from Preston Station across the Ribble, was built in 1846.

It closed to passenger trains in 1968 and to goods trains four years later on May 1, 1972. Since then it has been used as a footbridge.

The structure is not owned by either Preston or South Ribble Councils whose boroughs it links, but by a family in Scandinavia.