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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 17:36 GMT
Bridge to Manchester's past revealed
Workmen restoring the red sandstone
The restored bridge will go on show again in 2002
A bridge hidden under streets in Manchester for more than 100 years will soon be revealed to the public.

Archaeologists are surveying and cleaning Hanging Bridge, last seen in Victorian times, before it goes on show as a main attraction of a new visitor centre at Manchester Cathedral.

The bridge, built in 1421, was last seen in the 1890s when thousands of Victorians flocked to the medieval attraction.

County archaeologist for Greater Manchester, Robina McNeil, told BBC News Online: "The bridge has not been seen for more than a century, and is a good medieval piece of bridgework."

When the bridge was last on display in Victorian times about 32,000 paid to see it in three months

Robina McNeil, archaeologist

The bridge, opposite Manchester Cathedral, is one of six scheduled ancient monuments in the city.

The red sandstone structure is buried next to the cellars of two Victorian buildings, which are being removed to provide space for a cathedral visitor centre.

Mrs McNeil, who is based at the University of Manchester, told BBC News Online: "For a long time nobody knew the bridge was there, and it remains one of the hidden secrets of the city.

"It will be a great attraction and clearly visible through the windows of the new cathedral visitor centre.

"When people think about Manchester they think about the industrial revolution and related architecture, but the city has great longevity and goes back to Roman times.

A digger works under a bridge arch
Rubble is cleared from underneath the bridge

"Hanging Bridge was a major bridge in the early part of 15th century Manchester that linked the cathedral, which was at that time a parish church with what was then the medieval city centre.

"When the bridge was last on display in Victorian times about 32,000 paid to see it in three months."

The bridge, which has two arches, was then covered up again as part of the Victorian building programme for the city.

It spanned a natural watercourse known as Hanging Ditch, which separated the church area from the medieval market centre of Manchester.

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