Friends of Friar Gate Bridge
English Heritage, now Historic England, conferred a Grade 2 listing on Friar Gate Bridge in 1974, citing its ornate ironwork; many other organisations and experts would endorse this. For many people in Derby, however, Friar Gate Bridge has a much more personal significance.
The older generation have fond memories of train trips from Friargate station, immediately next to the bridge, especially to Skegness. People living and working near the bridge can see enough to admire but are saddened by its present sorry state; school children and tourists come and wonder at its history; at least one couple had their wedding photos taken under the bridge, and yet successive City Councils have failed to maintain it.
Over the years, various campaigns have been started to try to persuade the City Council to restore the bridge. In 2013 residents of the New Zealand area of Derby formed an action group, the Friends of Friar Gate Bridge, which met with council officers and neighbouring landowners. By early 2015 there seemed, at last, to be some consensus and this encouraged the group, aided by other individuals, to formalise itself.
In May 2015 a public meeting was held, a constitution agreed and trustees appointed. In August The Friends of Friar Gate Bridge obtained the status of a Charitable Incorporated Organization.
The objectives of the Friends can be found in “The Constitution“; to summarise, we are setting out to raise public awareness about the history of the bridge and to promote its conservation, protection and improvement.
The Friends will be engaging with the public and all interested bodies to establish an ongoing use for the bridge, which will not remain simply as a piece of ornate street architecture. The Friends will also be raising funds to ensure that the bridge is fully restored. The current target is £500,000.