Positioning the bridge over the River Ouse

Sheffield Park River Ouse bridge moving 2

It's not easy moving an 8.75 tonne bridge, it takes some heavy lifting machinery and plenty of planning as well as a few head scratching moments. With the bridge now in position though, it's well worth a walk down to the River Ouse to see the landscape from a different perspective.

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of planning, logistics and heavy machinery to move a 8.75 tonne, 16m long bridge over uneven terrain, crossing a stream then placing it across a river spanning 12 metres. This is what took place on 25 September though, when we moved the bridge that had been sitting by the car park since last November.

The bridge sitting on the parkland, waiting to be moved to the Ouse
Sheffield Park River Ouse bridge
The bridge sitting on the parkland, waiting to be moved to the Ouse

When the bridge initially arrived from the manufacturer at the end of autumn, the weather was starting to turn and the ground conditions were not looking favourable for moving it. Over the following months, Ebsford Environmental Ltd were appointed to carry out the move with the heavy lifting machinery coming from Coppard Plant Hire Ltd in Crowborough. The route was planned and vunerable areas of ground and the bridge across the Hammerdick Stream were highlighted as needing protection with matting on moving day, to ensure no long term damage was done.

Some of the heavy lifting equipment required to move the bridge
Sheffield Park River Ouse bridge moving 1
Some of the heavy lifting equipment required to move the bridge

The bridge was initially lifted up and secured in place onto the back of a remote control vehicle called a rubber duck. This was then driven around the edge of the parkland, following the path of least gradient and down to the bridge by the Hammerdick Stream.

Moving day for the bridge across the River Ouse on the parkland
Sheffield Park River Ouse bridge moving day
Moving day for the bridge across the River Ouse on the parkland

Crossing the stream was tight, but then it was a clear drive alongside the River Ouse where the foundations had already been laid a few weeks previously to position the bridge. Here the large crane came back into use, as well as a smaller one on the opposite side of the bank to place it in its final position. Our thanks to our farming neighbour for access via his land on the north side of the river to do this.

Positioning the bridge over the River Ouse
Sheffield Park River Ouse bridge move 4
Positioning the bridge over the River Ouse

The whole process took 4 hours, with the transportation of the bridge alone taking 45 minutes. The final fixings were added the next day to bolt it down and a gate has been added to stop cattle from moving over it.

" The sun was shining and it was very exciting to watch our bridge undertake it’s long anticipated journey down to its position across the River Ouse. The view from the bridge is breath-taking and tranquil, and we are looking forward to many visitors crossing and the opportunities and engagement that joining the local communities of Fletching and Newick to our historic parkland will bring. We are also enthusiastic about opening up alternative routes for keen ramblers and walkers along this extension of the picturesque Ouse Valley Way. "
- Jo Emerson, Business Support Co-ordinator for the project.

If you enjoy walking, then why not plan to come by foot and enjoy the walk across the parkland to visitor reception, the tearoom and shop? Arriving via the bridge gives a different perspective on Sheffield Park and Garden and you can find a suggested walking route to explore the parkland at the bottom of this page if you'd like to follow our route. Arriving in the next few weeks is also a rope bridge which will let you cross to the small island by Irongates Lock. Watch out for details of this coming soon.

It's worth taking a look at the route of the Ouse Valley Way as well if you'd like to plan a day around your visit to Sheffield Park. This 42-mile long stretch of footpath starts at the source in Lower Beeding and passes through many Sussex villages before reaching the English Channel at Seaford, as well as passing near Nymans, another National Trust properties near Handcross.