Pooley Bridge

Described as “the “Jewel-in-the-Crown” of Cumbria’s Infrastructure Recovery Programme, and the “Peoples’ Bridge”, the multi award winning Pooley Bridge is the UK’s first stainless-steel road bridge
Cumbria County Council
Pooley Bridge
NEC3 Option A


A replacement for a beloved listed stone 1764 Lake-District packhorse-bridge destroyed by Storm Desmond, December 2015

Cumbria wanted a future-proof bridge flood resilient, complying with EA regulations with a clear span and meeting villager’s wishes for a high-quality crossing to replace the eponymous structure.

Cumbria County Council appointed bridge specialists Knight-Architects, with Mott-MacDonald, to produce the concept design. Knight led an intense and meaningful engagement process with the community, translating their diverse aspirations into a design that achieved unanimous support.



The result a beautifully slender and unique, 40m single-span arch with a top-tie, a composite structure, with a reinforced concrete deck and arch, connected to a stainless-steel structure with spandrels at 90º to axis of the arch. Lean duplex stainless-steel whilst 2.5 times more expensive than carbon steel was selected based on its whole-life-cost and aesthetics. It has higher strength and is maintenance free. The design fits-in within the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Lake District National Park, respecting its history, providing unhindered views, and minimising waterflow obstruction.

Key Challenges

The programme was constrained by EA in-river permits and at this confirmed site over a major salmon river, it was essential that there were no environmental issues.

Work could not commence in-river until June, when flood risk subsided. Rock-armour was placed but bridge construction waited until the tourist season ended.

Consultation emphasised the necessity to maintain access to Pooley, via the temporary bridge, limiting damage to tourism.

Added Value

The lean duplex stainless-steel is 100% recyclable requiring no maintenance over its design life.

The use of Trief Kerbs as a VRS made it possible to have very transparent railings and for pedestrians to cross from pavement to pavement, allowing for children or families to play Pooh sticks as they used to in the historic bridge.

Donations to community groups, college/schools STEM-visits, apprenticeships, university placements formed EWCE’s social-value offer. EWCE engaged a largely Cumbrian supply-chain.

Adjacent properties received landscape-gardening upgrades, railings, and riverbank reconstruction without charge.

Continuous engagement with villagers/councillors through meetings, door-knocks and newsletters, resulted in the community celebrating the structure, producing commemorative beer, jigsaw, fridge-magnets. Consultation emphasised the necessity to maintain access to Pooley limiting damage to tourism.

Client Feedback

“Thank you for your hard work and talents in delivering this really quite special project. Balancing the need for great design, significant timing constraints, community connectivity and a physically constrained site was a big ask. You proved yourselves up to the challenge. Really well done.”
Stephen Hall
Assistant Director of Economy and Environment, Cumbria County Council

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