Taplow Case Study

Civil Engineering

Floating Bridges and Opened Up Access Puts New Housing Development on Track


What was needed?

Major developer, Berkeley Homes, had secured a parcel of land on the River Thames in Taplow, Berkshire for a new housing development. They approached Land and Water to help with footbridge access that would span the River Thames onto Ray Mill Island. Access to this section of the development site was limited and construction of the bridge from the land was not possible.

Land & Water’s Solution

With traditional land-based access no longer an option, access from the water was the solution. However, the complex location of the site meant securing a bridge in place would still be a challenge.

Land & Water project specialists utilised an innovative approach that would allow installation of the bridge from the water to connect two parts of the land over a 35 metre stretch of the River Thames. The solution required the installation of extensive piled foundations and construction of intricate reinforced concrete abutments to support a statement bridge.

The complex location of one area of the new housing development meant that construction of one of the abutments would need to be completed entirely from the water requiring specialist equipment, including pontoons and cranes specifically designed for the task.

An iconic, 40 tonne bridge was the statement piece of the solution, manufactured by Berkeley Homes’ preferred supplier S H Structures Ltd. The bridge, delivered in pieces, was to be assembled a mile down river.

The final piece of the puzzle was to secure the bridge in place from the water. This task brought the attention of the Taplow community, the press and many engineers who watched in amazement.

"Our company has always prided itself on being an innovative contractor and finding solutions to complex access problems is a major reason why our customers come back to us time and time again. This project however will stand out in the memory. I will never forget floating a 40 tonne, fully built, bridge up the River Thames! Most of all though is the fact that this project possibly would never have happened if we hadn’t been able to find such a creative solution."

Kevin Kirkland, Construction Director at Land & Water

Lowering the bridge

Lowering the bridge onto the pontoon

Rotating the bridge

Rotating the bridge into position

Bridge in position

The bridge in its final position

Using a 50 tonne crane, Land and Water hoisted the complete 40 tonne structure onto a waterborne pontoon, fixing the bridge to temporary supports.

Land & Water then floated the pontoon and the fully constructed bridge up the River Thames. Once at the site of installation, the pontoon and bridge were spun 90 degrees using a series of winches, tugs and specialist marine plant; allowing the structure to be lowered onto its abutments through retracting hydraulic jacks installed in the temporary supports.

The Results

The floating bridge, which attracted much attention and amazement, took 6 hours to float up the Thames and was secured in place with just mm to spare.

The total project, from inception to delivery, took 6 months to complete from June 2017 to January 2018.

"Working with Land & Water was great! After an initial tendering process the decision was made to appoint Land & Water to carry out the delivery and placement of Taplow Footbridge onto its final position across the River Thames. This will greatly enhance the development at Taplow and is a credit to Berkeley and the contractors involved in the process."

Nick Page-Smith, Operations Director at Berkeley Homes

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