A grade II listed 16th century bridge has partially collapsed, and local authorities are in debate over what caused it.

Long bridge in Lower Heyford, near Bicester, which was originally built in 1550 to carry horse and cart, saw a portion of stonework crumble away over the last two weeks.

The bridge has been in disrepair for a number of years, with parish councillors and local householders calling for weight restrictions to be applied, amid frequent use of the bridge by HGVs and other large vehicles.

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Parish councillor for Lower Heyford, Ric Fowles, said: “The fabric of the bridge is fairly flimsy, and repairs in the past have been substandard.

Bicester Advertiser: Section of Long Bridge in Lower Heyford has crumbled away. Photo credit: Robin BarkerSection of Long Bridge in Lower Heyford has crumbled away. Photo credit: Robin Barker (Image: Robin Barker)

“It is obvious that the vibrations of the hundreds of HGVs that cross the bridge each week have contributed to the destabilisation of the structure.

“It doesn’t take a structural engineer to work out that it is neglect that has led to this latest collapse.

“Its not just a bridge either, it’s part of the fabric of the parish; a medieval bridge of which there are very few. It’s part of our identity and we’ve had to watch it erode over the years.”

Despite assertions that the bridge is crumbling because of HGV use, county authorities have hired bridge engineers who claim differently.

County and Cherwell district councillor Ian Corkin said: “I met with the county’s bridge engineers recently and they told me the modern carriageway atop the bridge doesn’t drain water properly, so it seeps into the structure.

“They maintain the collapse was caused by water from the carriageway getting into and weakening the fabric of the bridge.

“I completely understand the community’s point of view because this is an important bridge; a prominent piece of architecture dating back to 1550.

“I know there has been a call for weight restrictions for some time now, but the council’s approach needs to be evidence based, and the only people able to give a professional opinion are the bridge engineers and contractors hired by the county council.”

Victoria Prentis also commented on the situation: “This bridge is a much-loved Grade II listed heritage asset and a vital route for those in the Heyfords, Astons and further afield.

“Like many people, I use it regularly and have held long-standing concerns about heavy goods vehicles using the bridge along with the volume of traffic.

“It is exactly why I have made representations before to Oxfordshire County Council about the need for a weight restriction.

“When I last wrote in January, the county council assured me that the bridge remained structurally sound.

“They told me that no weight restriction was recommended while the council undertook a county-wide review of freight logistics.

“I am extremely concerned at recent developments which have seen the bridge fall into a considerable state of disrepair.

“The current situation is not tenable and must be resolved as a matter of urgency.”

Oxfordshire County Council said the bridge is still open to drivers despite the damage.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1