'Astle Bridge' repairs to start next week

Part of a busy road is set to be closed for up to six months while the famous 'Astle Bridge' is repaired.

Over the years, variations on the words 'Astle is king' have appeared – and been removed – from the bridge
Over the years, variations on the words 'Astle is king' have appeared – and been removed – from the bridge

Work is set to start on strengthening Primrose Bridge, on Cradley Road, Netherton, so it can carry lorries and buses.

It is scheduled to start on March 15 and will last for up to six months, with Cradley Road closed from the entrance to C Beech & Sons to the entrance to Billinghams for the duration of the work.

For decades the bridge has been known around the Black Country as 'Astle Bridge', after the words ‘Astle is King’ were daubed on it to mark West Brom striker Jeff Astle’s winning goal against Everton in the 1968 FA Cup final.

The original graffiti was removed in the early 1990s but the bridge has since been painted on again on numerous occasions.

A new message appeared on the bridge to mark the death of Albion hero Jeff Astle in 2002

During the work, vehicles will be temporarily blocked from entering Northcott Road at its junction with Halesowen Road, and from entering Chapel Street at its junction with Cradley Road.

Diversions will be in place via Cradley Road, Northcott Road, Halesowen Road and Saltwells Road.

Plans for the £2.2 million scheme were first unveiled in March 2020.

The bridge, which passes over Dudley Canal, is currently designated as a weak bridge, with a 7.5-ton weight limit.

The repair work will increase the bridge load carrying capacity to 40 tons, so that it can safely carry heavy good vehicles and buses.

It is being funded with around £1.9m from the Department of Transport and £300,000 from Dudley Council.

Commenting on the scheme last year, Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for highways, said: "By strengthening the bridge, we will make the route accessible for heavier vehicles and more importantly, buses, hopefully allowing more people to make better use of public transport and all the benefits that brings."

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