WORK on the new £500,000 Upper Mills Bridge over the Stroudwater canal in Stonehouse is now well underway, with completion on schedule for Christmas.

The project will see the existing swing bridge replaced with a new fixed bridge, leading from the A419 into the Upper Mills Industrial Estate.

Completion of the bridge will enable Stroud District Council to dredge the canal between Ocean Bridge and Ryeford after engineering firm Britannia has re-aligned and widened the stretch.

The renovation will take advantage of height differences on the site to give canal boats sufficient headroom to go under the new fixed bridge. Project manager, Philip Wyatt, who lives in Stonehouse, says that the project has captured the enthusiasm of the community.

"Many who live here have really got behind the project, which will see this stretch of canal operational again after around 50 years of inactivity.

"Some have even been reminiscing about the days when long boats were a common site in Stonehouse, and others remember swimming in the canal."

Britannia has now completed the installation of 154 steel piles, which have been driven into the ground with a state of the art 70-tonne piling rig, to support the bridge and canal bank.

Once the bridge is complete Britannia will fix the nameplates from the old swing bridge, originally built in the 1920’s by Stroud-based TH & J Daniels Ltd Engineers, onto the new one.