Safety rail plan for iconic Ambleside landmark is dubbed 'sacrilege'

The Westmorland Gazette: Ambleside’s iconic Bridge House Ambleside’s iconic Bridge House

PLANS to place a handrail on an iconic Ambleside landmark have been dubbed ‘sacrilege’ by Lakes Parish Council.

The National Trust has applied to the Lake District National Park Authority for consent to place a rail on steps at the 18th century Bridge House.

The trust said the rail would allow safe access to the first floor of the Grade One listed building and preserve its cultural heritage.

But Michael Johnson, clerk to Lakes Parish Council, which has unanimously recommended the plan for refusal, disagreed.

“We strongly oppose anything that will disturb this ancient building,” he said. “If they were to put this adornment up it would be sacrilege.

“The building has been there all these years without the requirement for this health and safety. I am quite sure it could be dealt with by a discreet sign.”

Built in 1723 by the Braithwaite family, Bridge House has been used as a counting house, an apple shop, a tea room, a weaving shop, a cobblers, a chair makers and, at one time, a home to a family of eight.

Straddling Stock Beck, thousands of tourists have flocked from all over the world to to see it while artists such as John Ruskin, William Turner and Kurt Schwitters have drawn inspiration from its quirkiness.

In 1926 it was bought by a group of local people for £425 and passed into the care of the National Trust in 1928.

Fiona Green, who is leading the project for the trust, said: “We’d like to be able to reflect those different periods of its history, which we know people are very interested in, but without imposing too much on the building’s natural characteristics.

“The installation of a handrail will mean people can safely visit the upstairs and quietly reflect on how a space can adapt and change, while remaining a special place.”

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But Harry Manning, chairman of Ambleside Civic Trust, said the appeal of the historic house was its exterior.

“The importance of Bridge House is its visual appearance not making it into an indoor tourist attraction,” he said.

The plan, likely to go before planners next month, has received support from the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Comments (13)

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7:14pm Wed 19 Feb 14

furthersouth says...

health and safety gone mad
health and safety gone mad furthersouth
  • Score: 13

7:19pm Wed 19 Feb 14

lord elpuss says...

After all these years is utter madness.
Build a plywood replica of the internals of bridge house inside some other empty shop or building as a tourist attraction where the various uses of bridge house can be shown.
It would also be much safer as you wouldn't have people queing outside on a narrow pavement next to a busy road.
After all these years is utter madness. Build a plywood replica of the internals of bridge house inside some other empty shop or building as a tourist attraction where the various uses of bridge house can be shown. It would also be much safer as you wouldn't have people queing outside on a narrow pavement next to a busy road. lord elpuss
  • Score: 5

8:12am Thu 20 Feb 14

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

People are taller and wider than in 1723, so going up those steps (even with a hand-rail) will be difficult. If you add a little rain to make the stone slippery, it could be dangerous. The only way to fit the hand-rail would be to drill into the wall or steps. I think it's a bad idea. Better to make sure that the 'ground' floor is open more often. I've seen it open only once and then being used to flog memberships of the National Trust. Mostly it seems to be locked.
People are taller and wider than in 1723, so going up those steps (even with a hand-rail) will be difficult. If you add a little rain to make the stone slippery, it could be dangerous. The only way to fit the hand-rail would be to drill into the wall or steps. I think it's a bad idea. Better to make sure that the 'ground' floor is open more often. I've seen it open only once and then being used to flog memberships of the National Trust. Mostly it seems to be locked. Milkbutnosugarplease
  • Score: 6

4:02pm Thu 20 Feb 14

KingofGrasmere says...

I think its dangerous to have a building above water, it could fall in. Close it down! If you put a minnow on your head it would also be dangerous in case a swan pecked you, so don't do that either. Oh and don't put your cat in the chip pan, its dangerous!
I think its dangerous to have a building above water, it could fall in. Close it down! If you put a minnow on your head it would also be dangerous in case a swan pecked you, so don't do that either. Oh and don't put your cat in the chip pan, its dangerous! KingofGrasmere
  • Score: 15

5:43pm Thu 20 Feb 14

STATIONMAN says...

What's the point? Although it's Grade 1 listed there isn't much to see inside so why the need to open it up. That part of the pavement is congested enough as it is without adding to the problem. The building's importance is in the structure itself and its history. I'd have more sympathy if the Trust had kept it open through the summer but its door is always firmly locked. Health and safety - and lets have lots more tourists even though there's no room for them - gone mad!
What's the point? Although it's Grade 1 listed there isn't much to see inside so why the need to open it up. That part of the pavement is congested enough as it is without adding to the problem. The building's importance is in the structure itself and its history. I'd have more sympathy if the Trust had kept it open through the summer but its door is always firmly locked. Health and safety - and lets have lots more tourists even though there's no room for them - gone mad! STATIONMAN
  • Score: 5

7:59pm Thu 20 Feb 14

successful_loser says...

If we want this attraction to stay for another few hundred years we need to preserve it. Once it's gone, it's gone. Save it by putting a rail up. Like others have said, there isn't much to see inside anyway!
If we want this attraction to stay for another few hundred years we need to preserve it. Once it's gone, it's gone. Save it by putting a rail up. Like others have said, there isn't much to see inside anyway! successful_loser
  • Score: -10

12:27pm Fri 21 Feb 14

jazzactivist says...

I can't see what all the fuss is about. If a handrail would make the steps safer then it should be put in. Those stone steps are a bit tricky, especially if they are wet from either rain or spray when the beck is in fast flow. I don't understand what all this business is of wanting to preserve buildings and outlooks as they have looked for the past hundred years when, with a bit of thought, more people could enjoy them. A discreet handrail isn't going to make a difference to the look of the building or weaken the structure.
I can't see what all the fuss is about. If a handrail would make the steps safer then it should be put in. Those stone steps are a bit tricky, especially if they are wet from either rain or spray when the beck is in fast flow. I don't understand what all this business is of wanting to preserve buildings and outlooks as they have looked for the past hundred years when, with a bit of thought, more people could enjoy them. A discreet handrail isn't going to make a difference to the look of the building or weaken the structure. jazzactivist
  • Score: -14

9:45pm Fri 21 Feb 14

Lakeuk says...

Guy from the National Trust was on local news this evening talking about it, for them having the rail is not to do with health / safety and that isn't an issue for them, but they want it to get more people seeing the building.

From that I don't understand how a rail will get more people seeing inside the building, are you wanting visitors to run up and down those steps?

Anyone know the planning application number?
Guy from the National Trust was on local news this evening talking about it, for them having the rail is not to do with health / safety and that isn't an issue for them, but they want it to get more people seeing the building. From that I don't understand how a rail will get more people seeing inside the building, are you wanting visitors to run up and down those steps? Anyone know the planning application number? Lakeuk
  • Score: 2

10:40pm Fri 21 Feb 14

therealyellowbelly says...

I have been visiting the Bridge house for forty five years, why the National trust
wants to show the interior is beyond comprehension as there is nothing to see inside. All this would do is ruin the integrity of the building there would be nothing left of the building by the time several million feet have trod up and down those ancient steps! Have the National trust lost the plot? I thought the idea was" to preserve the past for future generations" not turn it into a theme park.
I have been visiting the Bridge house for forty five years, why the National trust wants to show the interior is beyond comprehension as there is nothing to see inside. All this would do is ruin the integrity of the building there would be nothing left of the building by the time several million feet have trod up and down those ancient steps! Have the National trust lost the plot? I thought the idea was" to preserve the past for future generations" not turn it into a theme park. therealyellowbelly
  • Score: 6

8:35am Sat 22 Feb 14

STATIONMAN says...

therealyellowbelly wrote:
I have been visiting the Bridge house for forty five years, why the National trust
wants to show the interior is beyond comprehension as there is nothing to see inside. All this would do is ruin the integrity of the building there would be nothing left of the building by the time several million feet have trod up and down those ancient steps! Have the National trust lost the plot? I thought the idea was" to preserve the past for future generations" not turn it into a theme park.
Perhaps you hadn't realised that a theme park is exactly what the National Trust and National Park want, they've both forgotten why the national park was established and all they are interested in is getting more and more visitors. The same goes for Cumbria Tourism and Go Lakes Travel. Somebody should tell them we're full up!!
[quote][p][bold]therealyellowbelly[/bold] wrote: I have been visiting the Bridge house for forty five years, why the National trust wants to show the interior is beyond comprehension as there is nothing to see inside. All this would do is ruin the integrity of the building there would be nothing left of the building by the time several million feet have trod up and down those ancient steps! Have the National trust lost the plot? I thought the idea was" to preserve the past for future generations" not turn it into a theme park.[/p][/quote]Perhaps you hadn't realised that a theme park is exactly what the National Trust and National Park want, they've both forgotten why the national park was established and all they are interested in is getting more and more visitors. The same goes for Cumbria Tourism and Go Lakes Travel. Somebody should tell them we're full up!! STATIONMAN
  • Score: -5

9:17am Sat 22 Feb 14

Spotty Fish says...

Bridge House is all about the fact that it is built on a bridge over a beck. The inside is immaterial. Utterly pointless waste of money putting up a handrail. All people want is a nice photograph of it, and why not, it is iconic after all.

Seriously Fiona Green, “The installation of a handrail will mean people can safely visit the upstairs and quietly reflect on how a space can adapt and change, while remaining a special place.” Quietly reflect with a crowd of tourists waiting outside on the pavement and a National Trust employee ringing a bell and shouting, "come down number 5, your time is up!" Join the real world.
Bridge House is all about the fact that it is built on a bridge over a beck. The inside is immaterial. Utterly pointless waste of money putting up a handrail. All people want is a nice photograph of it, and why not, it is iconic after all. Seriously Fiona Green, “The installation of a handrail will mean people can safely visit the upstairs and quietly reflect on how a space can adapt and change, while remaining a special place.” Quietly reflect with a crowd of tourists waiting outside on the pavement and a National Trust employee ringing a bell and shouting, "come down number 5, your time is up!" Join the real world. Spotty Fish
  • Score: 9

5:07pm Sat 22 Feb 14

jazzactivist says...

My guess is that the National Trust want people to have safer access to the stairs to have their photo taken on the steps of the building. most of those people will post the photos online and even more people will see the building and perhaps want to come and visit it, and the rest of the Lakes including the parts owned by the National Trust. You are right, everything is much too commercial nowadays, but there's no point in preserving history in aspic just to look at. What use is that to anyone?
My guess is that the National Trust want people to have safer access to the stairs to have their photo taken on the steps of the building. most of those people will post the photos online and even more people will see the building and perhaps want to come and visit it, and the rest of the Lakes including the parts owned by the National Trust. You are right, everything is much too commercial nowadays, but there's no point in preserving history in aspic just to look at. What use is that to anyone? jazzactivist
  • Score: -3

4:37pm Mon 24 Feb 14

Gini says...

As my family is associated with the Bridge House I strongly disagree with putting up any railing. Many thousands have successfully negotiated the steps before; why destroy the integrity of the building for the possibility that maybe someone might slip.
As my family is associated with the Bridge House I strongly disagree with putting up any railing. Many thousands have successfully negotiated the steps before; why destroy the integrity of the building for the possibility that maybe someone might slip. Gini
  • Score: 2

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