Newport Arch has been formally reopened after £143,000 of repairs to the 3rd century Roman gateway in Lincoln.
The structure is the only Roman arch in the UK that still allows traffic to pass through it.
In celebration of the restoration, representatives from the City of Lincoln Council, English Heritage, local businesses and heritage contractors met at the arch for an official ribbon cutting on June 2.
The work on the arch and Town Wall saw parts of the ancient monument restored after cold winters, a lorry crash and general corrosion landed it on the English Heritage ‘At Risk’ register.
The project, which was carried out by Robert Woodhead Ltd, began in October 2013 and was initially intended to take between 8 and 12 weeks.
As previously reported, the City of Lincoln Council received a grant of £60,000 through a WREN Heritage Fund to launch the project.
In January 2014 repairs to the arch were paused after a number of further issues with the structure meant that £80,000 of extra funding was needed to stabilise the Roman brickwork.
The shortfall in funding included the cost of stonemasonry, scaffolding and structural engineering and was met by two existing capital budgets.
In March, the road through Newport Arch was closed off as the gable walls were taken down and rebuilt on a stone-by-stone basis.
This was met by anger from traders in the Bailgate area who said they were assured a road closure would not happen.
English Heritage’s Principal for Heritage at Risk in the East Midlands, Ben Robinson, said: “There is nothing like this elsewhere in the country and Lincoln is notable for the amount of visible Roman archeology. ]
“The city is so lucky to have them but of course it does have the responsibility to maintain them and look after them.
“The cost of these projects can seem a lot but they do so much for Lincoln and the character of the place, they do really earn the money back. If the council didn’t save them it would be a huge loss to the city.
“The ‘At Risk’ register is constantly growing and it may well be that things in Lincoln are put on there in the future. But we have a national target to get a quarter of the structures off the list.
“We have a responsibility to look after these things. What I ask is, after 2000 years, can we be the generation to let them go?”
Site Manager from Robert Woodhead Heritage, Richard Carlton, added: “It’s been a very interesting job to work on. It was like any project, you start off with good intentions and when you start doing the work you come across unforeseen things and complications.
“The structure is more stable now than it’s ever been and it looks absolutely fantastic. Myself and the team are very proud.”
Chair of the Bailgate Area Guild, and owner of local business Yellowbellies, Linda Wardale, said: “It’s very humbling to be here at the opening ceremony. I think at first businesses were worried about the impact on businesses. Traffic could still reach us and the road closure didn’t affect us as badly as we thought.
“The work made is safe and something locals and visitors can enjoy for hundreds of years. It’s these kinds of attractions that bring us custom too.”
Final Mayoral duty
The event also marked the last duty of the Right Worshipful Mayor of Lincoln, Councillor Patrick Vaughan, before the 808th mayor is sworn in on June 3.
Patrick Vaughan said: “We are steeped in history in Lincoln and I think we should preserve all these monuments. The grant has been well spend and the structure will now stand for generations to come.
“It’s a pleasure to be here today as it has been for all my civic duties. I’m feeling very emotional. It’s been a brilliant year and for this project to mark the end it’s fantastic.”