PEOPLE living in a North-East community are celebrating the reinstallation of a footbridge – three years after the original bridge was washed away by flood waters.

The loss of the footbridge left former BBC broadcaster Eileen Carr isolated at her home in Forge Cottage, on the River Derwent, near Shotley Bridge, County Durham, forcing her to take a ten-mile crosscountry round trip to get basic provisions.

Previously, she could cross the footbridge to where her car was parked for the one-mile drive to Shotley Bridge.

Two public rights of way will be linked again, once work has been completed on the Paper Mill Bridge, in Shotley Grove.

The replacement of the footbridge, which connects footpaths in County Durham and Northumberland, was delayed while land issues were addressed.

Jim Bolton, of Shotley Grove, said: “We thought it was never going to happen because of the snags.

"It was a wonderful day to see the bridge arrive on Monday and see it lifted into place today.

“There is going to be an official opening, with a brass band already hired. We will have them play Shall We Gather at the River.”

Barry Johnson, 68, who lives nearby, said: “This is good for local people. The River Derwent is a lovely walk. This bridge will make it more accessible for people who are less able.”

The replacement footbridge is wider with ramps on each side and is accessible from the car park on the Durham bank.

Brian Poole, section manager for bridges at Durham County Council, said: “The bridge weighs in at 21 tonnes, so bringing it to such a rural location and lifting it in to place has been a well-planned technical operation.

“We brought the timber decked structure, which is two metres wide and 30 metres long, to the site in two halves, ready to be bolted together. And we have used a 300 tonne capacity crane to carefully lift it in place.

“It’s a real pleasure to see it in situ and over the next few weeks, we will complete the works and the relevant footpath improvements required before it opens again in the autumn.”