Pooley New Bridge, Penrith Crossing, Cumbria Architecture, Architect, Pictures, News

Pooley New Bridge, Cumbria

1 May 2022

Pooley New Bridge, Penrith, Cumbria, Northwest England, UK

6 projects have been awarded RIBA Northwest Awards – including a reimagined library in Liverpool and the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge in Penrith.

Design: Knight Architects

Pooley New Bridge Cumbria
photo © Peter Blair

Pooley New Bridge in Penrith

Jury Report

The new bridge design is the result of a tender by Cumbria County Council following the washing away of the historic crossing point. This catastrophe deeply affected the local community both psychologically and in terms of commercial business since the old bridge created a connection to amenity from the local tourist facilities.

The commission was not only to build a new bridge but to initially work with the community to establish the design concept. This engagement was undertaken to gain confidence in the bridge’s design and perceived longevity, whilst also respecting the designated World Heritage landscape setting. The architects produced three design approaches and ran three stakeholder consultations during the design process to ensure that the eventual design became more than just an essential piece of infrastructure within the community but a much-loved piece of sculpture.

Pooley New Bridge Cumbria
photo © Sean Conboy

The design takes cues from the consultations but is still a unique piece of design created by the architects. It addresses the Environment Agency’s requirement to be single span so that no piers land in the water whilst maintaining a degree of elegance. The structural span allows water to pass through it, under the roadway, to address the community’s concerns that something more solid would potentially be liable to a repeat accident. It is also made from stainless steel which is 20% stronger than mild steep so can be lighter and allows the structure to weather naturally, befitting of setting.

Pooley New Bridge Cumbria
photo © Sean Conboy

Each end of the bridge springs from local stone walls, hiding the heavier bearings. The pedestrian walkways are etched with names of all sponsors whose offerings were circulated into community projects. Railings are minimised to allow transparency through the bridge, again addressing the fear that something more solid could suffer a similar fate to the historic structure. Trief kerbs for vehicular movement are therefore also set back to the edge of road rather than pavement and bridge edge.

The combination of innovation in design and community engagement has delivered a truly unique project with embedded social value. The project demonstrates the journey from community sensitivity following trauma, through logistical complications of delivery, to a piece of design appropriately embedded in a designated World Heritage landscape. The material choices demonstrate technological advancement and carbon saving.

The client sympathy to solution came before cost briefing and the architects have delivered a piece of infrastructure which feels very much part of the town without exceeding budget. The delightful realisation is that this is a road bridge, capable of taking any traffic movement when it is so easily perceived as a lightweight pedestrian bridge.

Pooley New Bridge Cumbria
photo © Steven Barber

RIBA region: Northwest
Architect practice: Knight Architects
Date of completion: Oct 2020
Date of occupation: Oct 2020
Client company name: Cumbria County Council
Project city/town: Penrith
Contract value: Confidential
Gross internal area: 500.00 m²
Net internal area: 500.00 m²
Cost per m²: Confidential
Contractor company name: Eric Wright Civil Engineering Ltd

Pooley New Bridge Cumbria
photo © Thomas McNally


Structural Engineers: GHD
Project Management: Mott MacDonald


• RIBA Regional Award
• Regional Award Short List

2022 RIBA Northwest Awards Winners

2022 RIBA Northwest Awards Winners

Location: Pooley New Bridge, Penrith, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom

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