Built in 1848, Derby Street Bridge has been overlooking Ormskirk railway station for over 170 years.
The bridge carries the A570 one way through Ormskirk from the west and lies on an important route into the town.
It is a protected structure with a grade 2 listing for its historical interest. There is also a grade 2 listed water fountain built into the south west corner of the bridge parapet. The fountain was installed in the mid-19th century during public health improvements in the town. The bridge forms part of a group of heritage buildings on Derby Street all of which lie within the Ormskirk Town Centre Conservation Area.
The bridge was not built to carry modern traffic and in its current configuration does not meet modern standards. The existing traffic lanes are narrow, causing wider vehicles to straddle both lanes. The footways are also too narrow for pedestrians to use safely. Added to this, the road layout means that traffic runs too close to the parapet walls for a bridge over a railway than modern design standards allow, which increases the risk to trains from falling masonry should a vehicle strike the parapet. The parapets are also lower than modern standards allow and there have been recorded incidents of people falling from the bridge on to the railway.
Inspections have shown that the condition of the brick arches has deteriorated resulting in a reduced capacity to carry heavy traffic. Consequently an 18 tonne weight limit was imposed on the bridge in 2016 and without intervention this may need to be reduced further in the future.
In order for the bridge to remain in use it is essential that the deterioration is addressed and the bridge strengthened. Changes to the road layout are also needed to ensure that pedestrians and road users can cross the bridge safely and that the risk of collision with the parapets is reduced.
To make the bridge safe for all users, the existing two lane road layout over the bridge is due to be replaced by a single traffic lane with two wider footways. This will make it safer for pedestrians to use and allow traffic to run further away from the parapet walls. The parapets will be raised to reduce the risk of anyone falling on to the railway.
Although options for replacing the bridge with a wider structure have been considered, in depth modelling of traffic flows in the town centre has shown that reducing the bridge to a single traffic lane will not adversely affect traffic using the bridge both now and in the future. Without a valid justification for a new bridge any proposal to demolish a listed structure would be considered unreasonable and open to challenge. Providing a new bridge would also mean a prolonged closure of Derby Street with no suitable alternative route for local traffic, and the resulting disruption would be significant with no access to parts of the town from the west including the train station. The option of adding footbridges alongside the bridge has also been considered but this would require the parapets to be strengthened or protected meaning there would still not be enough room for two standard traffic lanes over the bridge even without the footways.
Work is planned to start in November 2021 including the strengthening work, changed road layout and additional maintenance work that will preserve the fabric of the bridge. As part of changes to the road layout there will also be improvements to make it easier for pedestrians to cross Derby Street.
These works, together with a range of traffic and town centre improvements planned in the near future, will mean that the bridge will be able to operate effectively and safely for many years to come and will continue to remain a valuable feature of the historic townscape of Ormskirk.
Plan of the proposals (PDF 340 KB)
Simulating traffic at morning and afternoon peak hours.