Skip to content

Sizergh suspension bridge

View along a wooden footbridge across the river on the estate at Sizergh Castle, Cumbria
The suspension bridge on Sizergh's estate | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

Built to allow workers to access the Sedgwick Gunpowder Works, this bridge is 150 years old in 2024, and the recycled suspension rods are estimated to be 200 years old. This winter has been particularly wet, with six named storms, and the bridge was damaged by Storm Isha in January.

The Sedgwick Gunpower Company erected a bridge over the River Kent, which was first shown on maps in 1859 as ‘new wood bridge’. The bridge is likely to have been built to divert members of the public from walking through the gunpowder works, and to ensure that all workers could access the site at one single point for clocking in and searching.

The first bridge was swept away in a flood and was rebuilt in 1874 by Francis Willacy as a suspension bridge. It was reputed to contain suspension rods reused from an earlier bridge in Scotland.

Looking after the bridge

The care of the bridge was transferred from the Strickland family to the National Trust in 1950, and over the years several projects have been carried out to refurbish the bridge, including an investment of £35,000 into the maintenance of the structure in 2022.

This winter, there were six named storms across December and January. Coupled with the age of the bridge and its recycled suspension rods, the impacts of climate change mean that we need to think carefully about how we maintain and look after the bridge – the bridge itself is 150 years old this year, with the suspension rods estimated to be 200 years old.

Storm Isha

The bridge was damaged by Storm Isha in January 2024. The damage included some openly visible impact on the bridge deck, which has now been repaired. However, there was more critical damage to one of the structural links.

Working with specialist structural engineers, we have carefully stripped the impacted link to assess damage, and are now following their recommendations to install additional structural support. It will take time to design and fabricate the additional support, and we have ensured that the correct permissions are in place from the council to close the right of way.

Please bear with us whilst we work with specialists to install further structural support to ensure that the bridge is safe for everyone to use. We’ll be updating this webpage with an estimated timetable to re-open the bridge as soon as we have confirmation from our structural engineers.

Support us

The age of the bridge, and the impacts of climate change with changing weather patterns, mean that the bridge is vulnerable.

We will do everything that we can to prolong the life of the bridge structure, adapt to climate change, and make sure the bridge is resilient to future storm events. We want to ensure that the bridge is safe for people to use, and to look after this piece of local history.

Please get in touch with us if you are interested in supporting our conservation work to look after this significant local landmark - email

View of the wetland at Park End from the bird hide at Sizergh, Cumbria

Exploring the estate at Sizergh 

Connect with nature in Sizergh’s woodland, wetland and farmland. Find out about the wildlife you can spot while exploring this 1,600-acre estate.