A GAPING hole has opened up in a partially collapsed medieval bridge which survived one of the bloodiest chapters in English history only to be bombarded by devastating storms.

The large hole has opened up in Powick Old Bridge over the River Teme after the bridge suffered a partial collapse of the wingwall in January, compared by one heritage champion to an 'open wound'.

Now more damage is apparent with the hole opening up as bosses at Worcestershire County Council say a platform will be installed, once the plan is agreed, so they can begin work to repair the historic bridge. 

It has not yet been made clear to the Worcester News when the hole opened up (although it is believed to be recent) and what implications it has for the overall structural integrity of the bridge itself.

The partial collapse on January 31 led to the then county council transport leader, Mike Rouse, blaming the situation on the removal of a weir by the Environment Agency to assist migrating fish, something the Environment Agency strongly disputes.

WORRY: Powick Old Bridge pictured on Friday, June 7, 2024 after a hole opened in the medieval bridge WORRY: Powick Old Bridge pictured on Friday, June 7, 2024 after a hole opened in the medieval bridge (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

Large piles of driftwood and other debris have been pictured piled against the bridge during floods earlier in the year after a series of winter storms during which the archways of the bridge were totally submerged by the swollen river.

The bridge was the scene of the Battle of Powick Bridge on September 23, 1642, the opening skirmish of the English Civil War, and also featured heavily in its last decisive engagement, the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.

Built by monks from Malvern Priory, the bridge was constructed before 1447 and was partially rebuilt during the 17th century. 

Paul Harding, of Discover History, said: "Sadly, it will continue to deteriorate until something is done. I hope the finger-pointing and blame game has come to an end, and a plan has been coordinated. The weather and water level is being kind, so things need to be done as soon as possible. She may not last another winter!"

Cllr Alan Amos, county councillor for Bedwardine and a city councillor for Lower Wick and Pitmaston, said: "This hole is a timely warning of how urgent this is which is what I have been saying for a long time. It is not just a bridge. It is part of a community."

Daniel Daniels, Chairman of the Battle of Worcester Society said: "The Battle of Worcester Society and the Battlefields Trust are very concerned about the historic Powick bridge and the very recent hole that has appeared.  Worcestershire County Council is mindful of the significance of the bridge and have given an update on progress.  Like everyone in Worcester, and elsewhere, we are keen to ensure progress and repair work happens as soon as possible."

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council previously said workers had have been on site to clear material but that any repairs must take into account the flood risk. 

FLASHBACK: Powick Old Bridge with debris piled right up to the parapet FLASHBACK: Powick Old Bridge with debris piled right up to the parapet (Image: Jeremy Davies)

Daniel Daniels, Chairman of The Battle of Worcester Society, has now made a number of visits to the bridge and his concern has continued to grow after previously likening the damage to an open wound.

RECOMMENDED READING: Powick Old Bridge photo shows mountains of driftwood

RECOMMENDED READING: Hole opens up in Worcester's medieval Powick Old Bridge

Jon Fraser, from Worcestershire County Council, speaking on Friday, said: “ We are extremely mindful of the significance of the bridge, and we are determined to treat the structure with the care and attention that such a key historic structure deserves.

"We are waiting for the temporary works design to be finalised. Once this is ready, a temporary working platform will be installed.  

"This platform will protect the damaged section from losing more material, it will prevent water from entering the arch so that work can take place, and if the river does flood water will be diverted over the top of the platform. This approach will also lead to a large proportion of the original stonework being reclaimed.

"We are continuing to monitor the bridge, the hole has occurred because there is currently no support underneath this section. The bridge will remain closed until the works to repair it have been carried out.”