A MAJOR £250,000 project to replace Godmanchester s iconic Chinese Bridge, which was at risk of becoming dangerous, began in earnest on Tuesday morning. A giant mobile crane arrived on site to lift off the 50-year-old Grade II*-listed structure,

A MAJOR £250,000 project to replace Godmanchester's iconic Chinese Bridge, which was at risk of becoming dangerous, began in earnest on Tuesday morning.

A giant mobile crane arrived on site to lift off the 50-year-old Grade II*-listed structure, which will be replaced by something that is expected to look strikingly similar.

Installation of the new bridge will start next Monday, and the whole project is then expected to be finished within 10 working days.

Structural engineers who examined the old pedestrian bridge for Cambridgeshire County Council said there was so much rot and damage in the 18.4-metre-long structure, built in 1960, that they recommended replacement rather than extensive repair.

The scheme has the backing of Huntingdonshire District Council planners and conservation department, English Heritage and the approval of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Consultants had warned that parts of the footway constituted a tripping hazard, and that there was a risk that one of the parapets could fail under the force of several people leaning on it. That issue required urgent attention, they said.

There has been a Chinese Bridge over the River Great Ouse in Godmanchester since 1827. The first bridge was re-built in 1869, replaced in 1920, and the current structure was a replica installed half a century ago.

The bridge itself is costing around £150,000, but design, consultancy and other associated work will take the total cost to around £250,000.