MEMBERS of the Watercress Line who restored an historic footbridge in Ropley have been awarded for their civil engineering works.

The group were presented with two commendations at the Historic Bridges and Infrastructure Awards ceremony held at the Institution of Civil Engineers earlier this month.

It is thought to be the largest volunteer-led project of its type in the country.

Framed certificates were presented to Stephen Hurrell of Hurrell Architecture of Alresford and to structural engineers Paul Tanner Associates of Winchester.

Volunteer David Snow, who organised the project, said: “I am delighted with the way this old bridge now looks as though it has always been at Ropley. A footbridge at this location has been on our wish list for almost 20 years and it was great to see it slowly coming together as the components were assembled.

“The Watercress Line has much to be proud of with this project and the award today is recognition of what a volunteer organisation can achieve.”

Originally built in 1892 by Andrew Handyside & Co Ltd of Derby the improved footbridge has been designed to create a step-free route around the station and access to one of the new viewing galleries.

The 180 ton bridge was transported in eight lorry loads from Cambridgeshire to Eastleigh, where the components were shot blasted and painted in Southern Railway green.

Works started in 2011, mainly with volunteer labour, taking 18 months to complete and was formally opened in June 2013 by the Hon. Sir William McAlpine Bt. Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust.