Structure of the bridge

Friar Gate Bridge presents a unified appearance but actually consists of a large number of structural and decorative castings bolted together.


Each of the four tracks is supported by two substantial arch-beams (eight in total) tied together by decorative transoms.  On top of the Bridge, the rails are supported by large timber way-beams running the length of the Bridge. The way-beams are held in cast iron frames on top of cross-beams supported by the deck-plates.

Each pair of tracks has parapets (four in total) supported on cantilever beams on the top side of the Bridge, with spandrels filling in the triangular spaces above the arches.  The parapets and spandrels are highly decorative on the outward-facing sides and the parapets (but not the spandrels) are of plainer design on the inward-facing sides.  The decorative work is formed of a number of closely abutting castings bolted on.


The parts of the Bridge visible from Friar Gate are coated in many layers of paint - and the upper faces have been coated with bitumen.

Condition of the bridge

Basically, the Bridge is structurally sound but drainage problems and neglect of coatings have resulted in widespread

widespread corrosion of the ironwork, especially where water runs down the abutment walls and where it pools on the deck plates.  The coatings are mostly

intact but are damaged in places, which has allowed local corrosion.  The Bridge is netted because of the risk of parts falling off due to corroded fastenings.  There is also decay in the timber way-beams.

A conservation survey commissioned by Derby City Council has reported in detail on the condition of the Bridge and identified a long list of restoration tasks that are needed.  Different levels of restoration are considered:


  1. To stabilise the condition of the Bridge for the medium term and allow light loadings; or
  2. To restore the Bridge for the long term and allow medium loadings.


The former is considered a ‘value for money’ option by the City Council in view of constraints on local government funding.


The Friends of Friar Gate Bridge charity is aiming for a full restoration.  This beautiful structure, a fine example of Derby engineering, should be protected for the long term.  In outline, this will require the following:


  • Remove, repair and re-fix many of the decorative panels.
  • Remove, repair/rebuild and re-fix the top side beams and frames.
  • Replace badly decayed timber way-beams.
  • Supply new cast iron gutters.
  • Blast clean off old paint and apply new.
  • Clean off bitumen and apply new.

Friends of Friar Gate Bridge is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales Number 1163174

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© 2017 Friends of Friar Gate Bridge