Hopes that a bridge jointly owned by Herefordshire and Gloucestershire County Councils, will soon be repaired and reopened, have been dashed.

Gloucestershire County Council had to close Lydbrook Bridge, also known as the Black Bridge, in January this year when a routine inspection found that it had become dangerous for anyone using it.

A bid was made to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for financial help to repair the structure.

Councillor Paul Newman, a member of the Reopen the Black Bridge Steering Group, told the Ross Gazette in April that he was hopeful that HLF would provide funding for the work which needed to be carried out. The bid concentrated on enhancing the historic bridge for future generations, restoring pedestrian access and developing community led engagement in research, interpretation and celebrations.

However, the group has recently been informed that their bid has been unsuccessful.

Cllr Newman said:?“I was very disappointed to hear that our bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant was unsuccessful, although I have not yet received the official documentation and feedback on why we were refused.

“As soon as we receive that information, we will be able to make a forward plan and I have already been reassured by Herefordshire Council that they remain fully committed to the restoration of a pedestrian crossing at this point.

“I have also been reassured that the current health and safety works on the bridge will only remove those parts of the structure which are in a dangerous condition, leaving the main elements in place to facilitate cost effective repairs as soon as that is possible.”

The group is planning to hold a stakeholder meeting in September to find a way they can move forward. Cllr Newman added:?“We remain as determined as ever to see this crossing fully restored as soon as it possibly can be.”

Known locally as Stowfield Viaduct, or the Black Bridge, the 19th century former railway structure spans the River Wye.

It is an important connection between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire and was used by thousands of walkers every year as part of the 136 mile Wye Valley Walk.

The bridge was originally constructed around 1869-1873 from what are thought to be wrought iron beams supported by iron columns.

Lydbrook Bridge is one of the four remaining (of the original ten) rail bridges to span the River Wye. It was constructed to carry the connection between the Ross-Monmouth Railway and the Severn and Wye Railway at Lydbrook junction station, for the Edison Swan Cable works.