Rangers from East Sussex County Council battled the extremes of an English summer to restore an iconic county river crossing to its former glory.
White Bridge, in Alfriston, has now fully reopened after being rebuilt during an eight-week refurbishment completed with £45,000 funding from the council and the South Downs National Park Authority.
The rangers worked in stifling conditions inside sealed scaffolding erected to prevent debris falling into the River Cuckmere, before facing rising water levels caused by torrential rain as the weather took a turn for the worse.
The work involved stripping back, priming and repainting metal beams and replacing wooden hand rails and timber decking, which was covered with an anti-slip surface. Brickwork on supporting pillars was cleaned and repointed where needed, while the final touches were applied with fresh coats of green and white paint.
Access across the river was open for the majority of the time the work was carried out thanks to a temporary bridge.
Cllr Carl Maynard, East Sussex County Council lead member for transport and environment, said, “I’d like to commend the rangers for a job well done in what were at times difficult conditions. White Bridge lies on one of the most important walking routes in the county, and the work carried out means it not only looks as good as new but should be structurally sound and accessible to all for many years to come.”
The repair work was timed to avoid the winter months, when the river is at risk of flooding, and to minimise impact on wildlife, particularly eels and fish, which use it as a migratory route. The reopening of the bridge, an important access point for residents and a key link in the South Downs Way, will also be welcomed by newlyweds, who often use it as a backdrop for wedding photographs.