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Botched repairs on historic French bridge to be redone by same builder

A building company is told to try again after work on the damaged thirteenth century bridge left locals shocked and disappointed

The pont Saint-Blaise across the river Aveyron at Najac is a listed monument; recent repairs shocked locals Pic: Mairie de Nayac; facebook

A botched restoration job on an 800-year-old bridge caused a storm in a small town and has led to departmental architects insisting the work be redone.

The pont Saint-Blaise across the river Aveyron at Najac was built between 1259 and 1274,  and then had major renovation work in 1404.

It was listed as a historic monument in 1987 and is still used every day as part of a departmental road.

Read more: Which is your favourite monument in France?

Crude repairs after armoured vehicle smash

Last autumn, during military exercises, an armoured vehicle smashed into the side of the stone and brick bridge, destroying a portion of it. 

Work ordered by the department started quickly but when the bridge was reopened, locals were shocked to see the damaged part had been covered in crude concrete rendering, with hand-drawn lines in the final rendering to suggest stonework. 

The mayor of Najac, Gilbert Blanc, told The Connexion: “The quality of the work was very disappointing.

“Not only was the rendering left grey, without any attempt to make it fit in with the rest of the bridge, but the stones they used were simple limestone and small, rather than the large, local sandstone blocks used by the old bridge-builders.”

Read more: Fixing garden wall is opportunity to study old methods

Same company ordered to redo work

Architects from the department examined the work and the department agreed that the company that carried out the work, which has not been identified, should demolish what it had done and rebuild to a better standard.

“It means the departmental road over the bridge will be shut again for two or three weeks, but it is worth it,” said Mr Blanc. 

“We like to think we have a beautiful town here, and want to make sure our monuments are well looked-after.”

He said he did not know how much the department had paid for the work, but said he was sure the army would be sent a bill for the repair.

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