A small, beloved footbridge within the county of Norfolk has been dismantled twice solely to get replaced by “local fairies,” based on village lore, in a long-running dispute between a coastal English village and the National Trust, a conservation charity.
The bridge, which offers a pathway to beloved salt marshes on the English coast, had been used for greater than 50 years till the National Trust took it down final 12 months, citing security considerations.
Villagers obtained no warning of the plans to take away an important route, mentioned Ian Curtis, a resident campaigning to have the bridge changed.
“There was an outcry in the village — ‘they’ve took our bridge down, we can’t get on the marsh!’” Mr. Curtis mentioned. He mentioned the National Trust, which owns the salt marshes, was being heavy-handed, and in contrast the dynamic between the Stiffkey villagers and the group to that of peasants and the “lord of the manor.” “It’s medieval times, that’s what it’s like here,” Mr. Curtis mentioned.
For locals and vacationers alike, Norfolk’s salt marshes are a haven for wildlife watching. The twisting muddy creeks, flooded day by day by the tide, are a conservation space for breeding birds and shellfish like blue-shelled cockles. Without the Stiffkey bridge, which stretched over a tidal creek, guests might get stranded within the marshes due to altering tides.
After the bridge was dismantled in February 2022, a substitute one was erected one evening in July. Mr. Curtis defined that fairies, lengthy thought to have lived within the salt marshes, have been to thank. Weeks later, the National Trust took it down, saying the Crown Estate and Natural England referred to as it harmful, in what Mr. Curtis described as a daybreak raid. A second makeshift bridge appeared quickly after.
Duncan Baker, a member of Parliament for North Norfolk, mentioned that the twice rebuilt “fairy bridge” was a thriller. “No one in the community knows” who rebuilt it, he mentioned.
And if anybody did, none have been saying.
For Mr. Baker, the ultimate straw within the dispute was the National Trust’s refusal to launch an engineering report that the belief mentioned had been the idea for its determination to take away the preliminary bridge.
“It’s a David versus Goliath situation,” he mentioned. “An enormous organization has effectively removed a bridge, totally unprepared for the feelings of the villagers who have been so upset by this.”
The National Trust mentioned it had no alternative however to take away the bridge as a result of coastal erosion had made it unsafe. It mentioned that its impartial structural engineer would attend a gathering with the local people in November to clarify why the bridge was taken down.
“Further widening of the channel and the age and condition of the bridge meant that our only option was to remove it on safety grounds following specialist advice,” the charity mentioned in a press release. It added that it understood that the bridge’s elimination was a explanation for concern for the neighborhood, and that it was dedicated to changing it by subsequent fall, which was “as soon as we practically can.”
In the meantime, the second fairy bridge continues to be standing — for now, no less than.