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Up close and personal – a return to inspect Battersea Bridge after 31 years

Battersea Bridge - Up and Under pic 1

Specialists engineering consultancy Up and Under has completed a two-week principal bridge inspection of the Grade II-listed Battersea Bridge on the River Thames, returning to the bridge 31 years after the company completed a previous principal inspection of the structure.

Up and Under, an RSK Group company, carried out the close visual inspection work on the bridge in 1991, returning this year to undertake the project for Ringway, scheduling some of the work at night to limit disruption to river traffic. The brief (a DMRB CS 450 Inspection of Highway Structures) required the team to be in touching distance of all elements to ensure a thorough evaluation, recording defects and supplementing this with photographic evidence and detailed defect drawings.

The company also undertook work in 2005 and 2011 for focused works on areas of damage but two images taken by colleagues in 1991 and this year formed part of the record of its principal bridge inspections.

MD Simon Enderby said:

“It was incredible for another Up and Under team to return to Battersea Bridge for another inspection 31 years after our last professional visit and reflect on two photographs taken of colleagues at the exact spot.

“It’s not the first time we’ve returned to a project decades after an inspection – it’s testament to the nature of the complex, specialist and essential infrastructure we are called on to evaluate as part of our work with its emphasis on rope access and confined-space working.”

Ringway Regional Director Clive Rillstone said:

“Ringway is pleased to continue to work with Up and Under, delivering specialist engineering projects for London. Their support managing inspections on Battersea Bridge, draws on their specialist skills and expertise in delivering this type of project which is keeping people safe and moving over this, and other vital crossing points on the Thames.”

Simon said:

“The Battersea Bridge project also saw Up and Under draw on the expertise of another RSK Group company, with CAN assisting with rigging tensions lines to allow horizontal movement for Up and Under inspectors during the works and arranging the safely boat that was required throughout the project.

“The nature of the work required individual river spans to be closed, diverting traffic through open spans as the inspection work progressed. A five-span arch bridge, Battersea features cast-iron girders and granite piers. One of the benefits of the company’s strategy for such projects is that only a narrow section of each footway was barriered off to the public to allow the team to rig the ropes without pedestrians being inconvenienced.”

He said the project drew on the skills of a team of four inspectors and four access specialists. The bridge has five spans each with seven cast iron arch ribs with wrought iron columns – 35 ribs in total. The span lengths vary with shore spans being 36.7m, intermediate being 47m and central being 54.1m. The overall length of the bridge is 236.3m.

The team of seven spent the equivalent of 70 days working on site on the project, using abseiling and aid climbing techniques to safely move around the structure. Bridge spans were closed to river traffic to facilitate safe access below deck, in accordance with Port of London Authority (PLA) procedures. Arches closed to navigation were marked in accordance with the PLA Thames Byelaws 2012, as depicted and by night lit signage with three red lights in a downward triangle. The main navigation span (central span) was also inspected during night shifts to minimise disruption to river traffic.