Iconic Welwyn Hatfield bridge walls topple into the water
PUBLISHED: 17:08 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 August 2018
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A section of a grade II-listed historic Hatfield bridge has collapsed after years of neglect.
The palladian bridge at Brocket Hall, at Wheathampstead and near Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, has stood since the 18th century and is part of a much-loved public right of way on the private estate.
A Lemsford resident Mr Richards was walking there and saw that the columns that support an entire section of the bridge walls have tumbled onto the bank and into the water.
“I was absolutely shocked to see a whole section of it laying in the water,” he told the WHT.
“I’ve been walking through here for about 35 years. Thousands of people use it, and go on the public footpath and enjoy the bridge.
“You get people from all over England coming to visit and take photographs of it.
“It’s part of our history. It’s such a shame to see it all run into the river - literally.”
The bridge was built over the serpentine pond by renowned English architect James Paine, and has long been part of Brocket Hall’s identity.
The current dilapidation is not down to a lack of warning, however.
In 2012, English Heritage labelled the bridge “at risk”, with building inspector John Neale saying: “Our concern with the bridge is with the stone work slowly deteriorating.”
He added that the bridge was not, at the time, a high risk case but that the organisation would be “keeping an eye on it”.
Now the bridge is the concern of Historic England after English Heritage divided into two organisations.
The Welwyn Hatfield Times has approached Historic England and Brocket Hall for comment.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council, which manages public rights of way, said: “We will carry out an inspection of the path later today and consider if a temporary closure or other action on our part is required to protect the safety of the public using the path.”
The bridge has graced the scenery of films such as Willow (1998), The Queen (2006) and Johnny English (2003), and appears prominently in much of Brocket Hall’s marketing materials.