Flood swept away a lifeline bridge

FLOODS which surged through the region last weekend turned out to be a bridge too far for Eileen Carr, who now faces an extra nine-mile journey to the shops.

Eileen Carr next to the remains of the iron bridge

FLOODS which surged through the region last weekend turned out to be a bridge too far for Eileen Carr, who now faces an extra nine-mile journey to the shops.

Former BBC broadcaster Eileen, 57, has found herself cut-off since the floods demolished a footbridge – known locally as the Iron Bridge – outside her home facing the River Derwent at Shotley Bridge, near Consett, County Durham, on Saturday night.

Her Forge Cottage home overlooks the structure from the north bank, and the footbridge was her lifeline. Now she fears a long wait until it can be replaced. And the local authority, Durham County Council, have been unable to reassure her, warning there is “no quick fix” towards building a replacement.

Meanwhile Eileen has to get into her 4x4 jeep and drive across seven fields, through a hotel grounds, then onto the A68 at Allensford, before driving back through Blackhill to reach the shops at Shotley Bridge, a total of 4.5 miles away, or a nine mile round trip.

Because the postman is unable to reach her, she also faces an even longer journey to the sorting office at Leadgate, near Consett, to collect her mail.

Eileen who shares her home with three collies, a Rottweiler called Rosie and a handful of pet sheep, explained: “I used to keep a small car parked on the other side of the bridge, and I would simply walk over to it and drive the half mile into Shotley Bridge to the shops for supplies. Now I am cut off. I even have to drive nine miles to reach my water meter, because that is on the other side of the river. The journey involves crossing seven fields and you need a jeep to do it.”

But a spokesman for the county council had little comfort for Eileen when he stressed that there could be “no quick fix” over building a replacement bridge.

“Because this bridge has been destroyed, a new one will have to be designed and funding obtained. These procedures take time and it is impossible for us to give a date when a replacement will be ready. We had been about to start work on strengthening the decks of the Iron Bridge before it was partially swept away.”

James Bolton, of Crawcrook, Gateshead, captured the breaking of the bridge on camera when he visited his parents in Shotley Bridge.

Mr Bolton rushed to get his camera when he heard an “almighty crack” as the iron bridge gave way. He was visiting his parents with wife Sarah and their four-month-old son, Archie.

He said: “My parents moved there in the 80s and we’ve never seen the river get that high before. As soon as I heard the big crack I ran into the house and got my camera.”

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