A NEW bridge has been opened at the heart of a South Lakeland village today, seventeen months after Storm Desmond.

Staveley was filled with sunshine, fanfares and happy crowds as Gowan Bridge was officially opened, with the festivities themed '500 ways to cross a bridge.'


People officially opening the bridge included some of the youngest and oldest people in Staveley; four-year olds Lenny Bruce and Jasmine Halden, as well as 83-year-old Ken Dixon and 98-year-old Charles Partridge.  

"This is a wonderful day for Staveley," Arthur Capstick, former chairman of the Staveley and Ings parish council, said. "What we thought was really important was the younger and older generations to come together when opening the bridge, especially the school children because they are the future generation who will be walking on it for the times to come."

Pippa Coleman and Steve Tonkin, from Ings, got dressed up to the nines for the bridge opening.

"It's been a long wait for the bridge and we wanted to do something a bit different to celebrate. We wanted to be the first bride and bridegroom to go across," she said. "It was a spur of the moment kind of thing, it's nice to dress up. We're thinking of going to a festival like this."

Christine Ormerod, from Ings, had dressed up as a donkey to celebrate the bridge opening.

"The bridge has been a long time coming. Staveley has a lovely community who support one another. You can see that today, and you could see it when we didn't have the bridge. 

"We have been cut off for almost eighteen months but it's very good to have it now."

The bridge was part of £120m investment across Cumbria to repair damage caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015. 

“Today was a fantastic way to open this new bridge. Congratulations must go to the local community who have really gone to town and put on a show. A huge amount of work has gone into the planning, design, construction and delivery of this project – over 8,000 worker hours in total – and the new bridge looks superb," Stephen Hall, Cumbria County Council Assistant Director of Highways, Transport and Fleet, said. 

"The loss of Old Gowan Bridge during Storm Desmond has had a significant impact on the local community and I would like to thank people for their patience and understanding during this difficult period.”