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Complex bridge lift helps reconnect local Derby community

Darley Abbey, Derby

Due to the poor structural condition of the existing Darley Abbey footbridge, Derby City Council called on us for our temporary bridging and in-house installation expertise to help reconnect the local community.

Providing local access across the River Derwent in the historic village of Darley Abbey, the original bridge structure was condemned due to safety concerns in May 2022. The bridge formed a key part of the local infrastructure, providing the community with easy access across the river to the Darley Abbey Mills, which houses several restaurants, bars and small businesses. 

As such, Derby City Council knew that a temporary bridging solution would be required and we were appointed to design, supply and install a temporary bridge.


temporary bridge


tonne capacity crane


award won


Temporary bridge installed due to the poor structural condition of existing footbridge
Severely tight install space and limited access
Bridge delivered in panels and assembled on site
Commended at ICE East Midlands Merit Awards

Products used on this project

The challenge

The temporary bridge design, which spanned 45 metres in length, was made from our Compact 200™ (C200) modular footbridge system, designed specifically for pedestrian applications, with the addition of steel mesh in-fill panels for added safety. 

The main challenge on the project came from the installation, with a severely tight site space and limited access. Due to the location, the 45-metre-long temporary bridge was delivered to site in modular panels, before being assembled in skeleton form on a residential road and then lifted into position by a 500-tonne capacity crane. 

Our solution

Speaking about the project, Lee Matthews, Major Projects Manager at Mabey Hire said: “This was a huge and incredibly complex installation, requiring all of our engineering team and in-house installation team’s expertise to plan and safely execute logistically. Due to the location, it was decided that a crane-lift would be the safest approach but even that presented challenges. As well as the residential street being the location for the bridge assembly – a very tight space – the site also included a row of protected trees, which made the site constraints even harsher when considering the crane lift. 

“We were working with exceptionally tight tolerances – at one point, part of the crane was just a couple of metres away from a resident’s front door! It’s testament to our experience and expertise that we were able to achieve the lift and installation with a 500-tonne crane – rather than the larger crane that was originally discussed. Credit goes to our experienced installation team and site manager, Paul Ogden, who worked tirelessly to ensure that this installation was a success, as well as always being on hand to answer any questions that the local community had.”

Rich Giles-Grant, Senior Technician – Structures Design & Bridges at Derby City Council added: “The main challenge on the project was definitely the limited space available, with an extremely tight area to work in. It was for this reason that we chose to work with Mabey Hire, as they really are specialists in what they do. The support we had from the team was fantastic, both on site during the installation and in all the preparation and planning that went beforehand. With these challenging logistics, effective collaboration really was key.

“It’s great to have now reconnected the community, with the village relying on the footbridge to access the local businesses and amenities on the opposite side of the river.”

Lee Matthews concluded: “The support we received from the village was amazing, with crowds of people coming to watch the bridge lift, as well as attending the opening ceremony. It was an honour to be involved in a project that clearly had such an important role in the local community.”

Following the assembly and installation, the temporary footbridge was officially named as ‘Walter’s Walkway’ and opened to the public in October 2022, following a competition where local school children suggested potential names for the new bridge. 

This project was Commended for 'Team Achievement' in the ICE East Midlands Merit Awards 2023.

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