A new footbridge in Sidmouth, which connects the town to the South West Coast Path and replaces the historic Alma Bridge has been officially opened.

The 19 meter bridge replaces the original Alma Bridge and is located some 40 meters inland from the original structure, which was damaged during floods in 2012, it had served the town since the early 1900s. Visitors using the new bridge can find out about the history of the region and the original bridge, as part of the scheme included a panel which commemorates and marks the original bridge. A number of reclaimed bricks, copings and finials have also been used in the new bridge. The bridge is clad in Purbeck Blue limestone which has been selected to match the existing walling surrounding it and is one of the types of stone that is found naturally along the Jurassic Coast.

A number of local dignitaries took part in a ribbon cutting event to officially open the bridge on Friday morning. Speaking to reporters, chairman of Devon County Council, Stuart Barker, said: “This is a very impressive new asset for the town and its design means it is accessible for everyone. The project has been a big undertaking, with cliff reprofiling and stabilisation work alongside the construction of the structure itself.

“This new bridge will maintain an essential link to the South West Coast Path, which provides significant economic benefit for the town. I think everyone involved in this project can be proud of what has been achieved.”

The new design features curved and profiled rib parapet posts to give a nautical appearance and the east side has curved ends softening its appearance and emergence from the sandstone cliffs. The bridge can be accessed via short sections of ramps which match the average gradient of the nearby Hanger path.

Ian Barlow, Chair of Sidmouth Town Council, spoke at the opening, he said: “This is a great way to start the enhancement of not just the Ham, but the eastern end of our seafront. Hopefully, it will be a catalyst to further the regeneration of this underused area and bring it up to the high standards we have become accustomed to in the rest of the town.”

While the bridge itself is now open for use, the Ham recreational area next to it will remain closed until Spring 2021, so that the fresh turf can become established.