Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Saturday, 6 June 2009 14:16 UK

Euro award for bridge restoration

High Level Bridge
Traffic restrictions have been in place since the restoration

A multi-million pound restoration of the 160-year-old High Level Bridge across the River Tyne has been recognised by a European heritage body.

The Grade I listed structure linking Newcastle and Gateshead has undergone a seven-year programme costing £40m.

Europa Nostra, which represents 250 European heritage organisations, gave the scheme a conservation award.

The award, which was announced in Sicily on Friday night, also includes 10,000 euros (£8,790) in prize money.

The bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson and is the oldest across the river.

Intrusive work

Judges said it was impressed with the level of engineering professionalism shown in the project, which involved replacing the bridge's original cast iron components.

Engineers also studied 150 years of train timetables to gauge the weight and frequency of the trains that had used the bridge to enable them to minimise the amount of intrusive strengthening work that needed to be carried out.

Iain Coucher, chief executive of owner Network Rail, said: "This award is a fabulous recognition of the detailed and complex work which went into the High Level Bridge project.

"It's a unique structure and our engineers had to develop new techniques to protect the bridge whilst respecting its Grade I listing."

The restoration project was the only one in England to receive an award by Europa Nostra this year.

In total there are 28 winners from 15 European countries.

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