Historic military bridge makes final journey

Inglis bridge
Inglis bridge
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One of the last military bridges installed to form access to RAF Sandtoft, a Second World War airfield, has been removed after it was installed sometime in 1943/44.

The Inglis Bridge, which is believed to be the only known surviving Mark 1 version, has been removed from over a 7m wide watercouse to the north of the M180 in South Yorkshire.

The bridge which has not been used since the end of the Second World War was the responsibility of Highways England and will be renovated by the Royal Engineers Association at the Army base in Nottingham. A partial segment of the bridge will be sent to the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent when renovations are completed.

Highways England project manager Russell Mclean said: “This has been a fascinating project to be involved in. We were approached by the Royal Engineers Association earlier this year who were interested in renovating a segment of the bridge for their museum.

“We were only too happy to help them with their request although the removal of the bridge did prove to be difficult as the bridge has been there for a long time so we weren’t sure how the structure was going to hold when we removed it. Luckily we were able to remove a large enough segment which can now be put proudly on display in the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent.”

The 50 feet bridge was removed by a cradle that was bolted to the roadway of the structure and lifted by a 400 tonne crane. The bridge was then split into 2 so it could be transported to the army base.

Members of the Royal Engineers Association were invited to the removal of the bridge.

Jim Johnstone of Doncaster Royal Engineers Association said: “The members of the Doncaster Branch of the Royal Engineers Association have never been involved in a project of this magnitude. In collaboration with Mr James Brooke, the farmer, who kindly donated the bridge to us we feel that we are saving a piece of Corps history that otherwise would have been lost. From the members of the Branch we must also thank Highways England for the tremendous assistance given in the recovery of the bridge.”

Inglis bridges were the first modular bridges (that is a bridge which could be built, used, dismantled and built elsewhere) provided for access across rivers and gaps during the war as they could be constructed in a short space of time and could take a large amount of weight. They were usually assembled by a team of 12 men and a turntable.

Counterweight was attached to the home bank side of the pre-erected structure which was then swung across the river to the far banking area.