Tadcaster Bridge near York collapses

Tadcaster Bridge near York collapses
Dramatic footage has captured the moment when an ancient bridge collapsed into a swollen river.

People were evacuated from the area around the bridge over the River Wharfe in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, after the collapse of the 18th century structure caused a gas leak.

The Press Association video shows the moment the stone side of the structure gave way, with parts dropping into the powerful river below and leaving the roadway and broken pipes clearly visible.

Tadcaster is 10 miles from York and has been affected by flooding caused by storms in recent days.

The bridge had already been closed due to fears over its structural safety before a crowd gathered at the riverside on Tuesday evening, as stone could be heard falling into the water and creaking noises could be heard.

Just before 5pm a huge chunk of the bridge fell into the water just a few feet below.

People watching ran as a wave headed towards the bank and a strong smell of gas came from pipes left visible in the gaping hole.

They moved further back as the smell got stronger and a large number of police and fire service vehicles arrived within 10 minutes.

Officers put a large cordon on a section of the main road each side of the bridge telling local people to leave the area due to a gas escape.

The bridge is in the middle of the town and has spanned the river for centuries. According to the Tadcaster town council website, the current structure was built around 1700.

At the scene, Conservative Selby and Ainsty MP Nigel Adams said he had been on the bridge with Communities Secretary Greg Clark earlier on Tuesday.

He said: "It was a few hours before it collapsed. We did go on to have a look at some of the damage. In hindsight, we shouldn't have been on it. But I thought it was important that I showed the secretary of state the severity of the damage and the impact.

"We are where we are now. We need to try and ensure that it's repaired as soon as practically possible and that every possible resource be available to the highways, to the county council to make that happens."

Residents evacuated from their homes were plunged into darkness as a power cut hit the part of Tadcaster which lies to the east of the river.

No-one knew whether this was linked to the bridge collapse.

Buses and mountain rescue teams arrived to take any residents who needed somewhere to stay to a reception centre at Tadcaster Grammar School.

The cordon put in place by the police included a large section of the town, including many of the shops on the western side, along the main street - the A659 which leads down to the bridge.

A second centre - the Riley Smith Hall - was also opened for residents who could not get to their homes.

The loss of the bridge means Tadcaster has been split in two with people having to travel out to the A64 by-pass to get to other side of town, including a lengthy detour to Bilborough Top to turn round on the dual carriageway.

Local residents said a disused railway viaduct might provide pedestrian access between the two sides of the river but this has been closed in the past.

The bridge has been closed a number of times in the past due to concerns for its safety during flooding. The last time was in September 2012, when it was closed for a number of days until divers could get into the river to inspect the stone structure.

Source: Press Association