A Roamers Retreat – Re-activating Conisbrough Viaduct (Conisbrough, UK)
The Trans Pennine Trail is a long-distance path running from coast to coast across Northern England entirely on surfaced paths and using only gentle gradients. In the East, the Trail follows the River Dearne to Conisbrough, South-East of Doncaster, where it passes the magnificent Conisbrough Viaduct, impossible to overlook with its 18 arches, 150 foot lattice iron girder span over the river, and 1,527 feet in length. The Viaduct is a beauty spot, seemingly untouched since its 1966 closure and the potential for a ‘roamers retreat’ would re-activate its use, re-connect the community with the countryside and enhance and promote the Trans Pennine Trail. It is community, that is a central focus for this proposal. Travel feeds the brain, it tests character and evokes fear from unfamiliar surroundings. The roamers retreat at Conisbrough Viaduct aims to strengthen community, provide a friendly hub for wanderers, and encourage a unique style of hospitality, sleeping beneath the arches.
The concept intertwines the old with the new, as this 6 year Mountain Bothies Association ‘work party’ will endeavor to celebrate the viaduct. A timber truss will represent that of what would have been used to construct the original brick viaduct. Bricks will be re-pointed across the viaduct over the course of a 6 year period with the aid of an intricate but temporary steel scaffolding system, so it is completed in time to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Trans Pennine Trail. A reinstated track along the top of the bridge will allow a cantilevering scaffolding system to move down the viaduct throughout the six year period, providing access to and from the arches below. General landscaping works will be carried out atop the viaduct allowing communal social activities to occur, the three arches will provide on-site accommodation using the idiosyncratic bothy typology for working holiday volunteers of the Mountain Bothies Association, accommodation for trailers, both individually and in groups, and activity spaces. Bicycle storage facilities will also be provided.
When the celebration ends, the scaffolding and structural work as well as timber trusses, will be removed, the enhanced landscaping atop the viaduct will be complete and in use, and the bothies will have been plugged back into the countryside as a legacy. A new structure, accessed via the small entrance atop the interrupting iron girder, will transport you down to a scenic rest stop, to be used as a headquarters base for the Mountain Bothies Association and an area to rest along the Trans Pennine Trail for those intending to go on, and for those hoping to veer off towards Doncaster. The benefits of the rest stop being the views out into the countryside as you hover above the River Don.