06 December 2010

A new footbridge over the River Nene will be opened on Thursday (Dec 9) re-establishing an historic link on the county’s rights of way network.

Built by Northamptonshire County Council the 20-metre bridge will provide walkers with direct links between the villages of Little Addington, Raunds and Stanwick.

In addition it provides access from the very popular Nene Way county path into the excellent facilities of Stanwick Lakes.

There has been a crossing point over the River Nene at this location since the 17th Century. The initial structure was known as a ‘staunch’ and it was constructed across the shallow reaches of the river.

Before a boat could pass over shallows a gate in the ‘staunch’ would be lowered, the water levels would rise and the boat could continue on its journey.

In 1761 the full length of the River Nene from The Wash to Northampton was opened for commercial boats bringing coal from the North East of England.

Cllr Heather Smith county council cabinet member for highways, minerals and waste, said: “This bridge provides a very important link over the River Nene and I’m delighted that this structure is being put in place.

“Historically this has been an important crossing for about 300 years and as well as being of practical importance, is also a valuable part of our heritage.”

The new footbridge which was funded by Northamptonshire County Council and supported by the Environment Agency, Rockingham Forest Trust, Natural England and local landowners will always retain the local name of ‘Staunch Bridge’.