Brompton-on-Swale Bridleway Bridge
In 2003 local horseriders first approached Brompton-on-Swale Parish Council about the possibility of creating a new bridleway over the River Swale. In the following year the Parish Council adopted this scheme in its new Village Plan. Shortly afterwards a steering group was set up to progress the project’s aim of creating a new traffic-free river crossing for cyclists, horseriders and walkers, making use of the long-disused bridge built in 1915 to carry the Catterick military railway over the river.
Yorkshire Water (who own the bridge and the southern approach to it) and Thomas Armstrong Ltd (who own land on the north bank) agreed to support the project and North Yorkshire County Council funded a feasibility study in 2005 which confirmed that the disused railway bridge was suitable for use as a bridleway. Planning permission for creation of the new crossing was obtained in 2007 and the Parish Council then successfully applied for grant aid to the Connect2 Scheme, a national programme aiming to improve local routes for non-motorised traffic led by the national sustainable transport charity, Sustrans. The BromptonBridge scheme is unique as the only Connect 2 Project in the UK to be developed by a Parish Council.
In addition to Connect 2 money (nationally funded by the Big Lottery) the project received further substantial help from the North Yorkshire Aggregates Fund via the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. Match funding for both grants was provided by community volunteer labour.
After many setbacks and delays the new bridleway river crossing was finally opened in October 2012 by our local MP The Right Honourable William Hague. It offers a safe alternative for users (including walkers on the Wainwright Coast to Coast route) to the heavily-trafficked Catterick Bridge and links a developing network of safe bridleway routes linking Brompton-on-Swale, Brough, Catterick Village, Colburn, Richmond (via Catterick Garrison), Ellerton and Scorton. In the longer term we hope it will also link with a more direct traffic-free route from Brompton to Richmond via Easby. These improvements will help existing and new cyclists, horseriders and walkers (especially children and youngsters) to get out into the countryside in a safe environment and will also promote safe cycle commuting.
An important spin-off benefit is that the Project safeguards the future of the former railway bridge, the most important surviving feature of the Catterick Garrison Railway, a line which during its life (1915-1967) carried over a million troops and many thousands of tons of equipment to and from the Garrison. The important role of the Army in the life of the local area, both in the past and in the present day, is commemorated in a “Portrait Bench” installed on the north bank of the river next to the bridge. This shows three figures, a Roman Legionary (Cataractonium Fort is close by), a First World War “Tommy” and a modern British infantryman.
A Real Community Project
The Parish Council is very grateful for the support of so many voluntary and public bodies who helped make its vision of a new, safe river crossing a reality.
The following organisations were members of the Project Steering Group (in alphabetical order!):-
British Horse Society
Brompton on Swale Parish Council
Richmond and SwaleValley Community Initiative
Richmondshire District Council
Swaledale Outdoor Club
Yorkshire Water (bridge owner).
In addition the following private sector companies, parish councils and voluntary groups all gave valuable assistance and encouragement to the bridge project:-
Catterick Sunday Market
Thomas Armstrong Ltd (landowners, north bank)
The Parish Councils of Brough, Catterick, Colburn and Scorton
Local Cycling Clubs and Walking Groups.