European experts present report on the rehabilitation of Colbert Bridge in Dieppe, France

Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute published today a technical and financial report on the rehabilitation of the Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe, France, listed among The 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2016. The European experts recommended that the Colbert Bridge is nominated for National Monument status with the utmost urgency.

Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe, France.

Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe, France. Photo: Courtesy of Dieppe’s Colbert Bridge Protection Committee

The Regional Commission for Historic Monuments examined the Colbert Bridge’s case on 29 November 2016 and voted in favour of its nomination as a whole for regional status as well as national status as Historic Monument. On this occasion, all stakeholders – including the Syndicat Mixte du Port de Dieppe (SMPD), which owns and operates the bridge – decided that the bridge itself should be preserved. The Syndicat agreed to cancel the construction contract of a new bridge. However, the Syndicat was allowed to order a feasibility study on the automatisation of the bridge’s original hydraulic mechanism. The decision on the protection of this mechanism is expected to be made in a few months, when the feasibility study is completed.

Contemporaneous with the Eiffel Tower and using the same building techniques and materials (puddled iron), the Colbert Bridge is the last large swing bridge still operating in Europe with its original hydraulic mechanism. It has operated continuously for nearly 130 years with a very high degree of reliability. The bridge is the only link between Dieppe’s historic centre and the harbour neighbourhood of Le Pollet. Every day, it swings 6 to 8 times for the harbour traffic and is crossed by 12,000 vehicles and 1,800 pedestrians.

“The Colbert Swing Bridge sits at the heart of a conservation area and, for the local population, is more than just a physical bridge. It is a bridge to the city’s history, tying social and cultural history to its economic history, whilst being a fully functioning piece of economic infrastructure,” highlights the report delivered by Campbell Thomson, Technical Consultant appointed by the European Investment Bank Institute, last December.

The rehabilitation project of the 1889 bridge would require 4.5 to 5 million euros.

“The rehabilitation of the Colbert Bridge offers the city the opportunity of a flagship project to act as a pioneer for a new economic orientation, building on the past to develop the future. A renovated bridge will not only draw tourists for industrial, social and cultural heritage aspects, but also broaden the existing tourism product,” advocated the European experts.

The technical and financial report plan was formulated on the basis of the outcomes of a three-day mission in Dieppe undertaken in May-June 2016, during which representatives from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute visited the Colbert Bridge and met with local and regional stakeholders. The delegation was joined by national specialists and the President of Dieppe’s Colbert Bridge Protection Committee, which submitted the nomination for The 7 Most Endangered programme together with the Foundation du Patrimoine.

Following expert missions to other sites listed among The 7 Most Endangered 2016, Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute will present technical and financial action plans for the Archaeological site of Ererouyk and the village of Ani Pemza in Armenia, Helsinki-Malmi Airport in Finland and the Kampos of Chios in Greece in the coming weeks. The report for Patarei Sea Fort in Tallinn in Estonia was published last December. Working meetings related to the Convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Extremadura in Spain and the Ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings in Turkey will be held in the coming months.

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