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Residents celebrate opening of latest link in North Dorset trailway

More than 800 people attended the opening of the latest section of North Dorset Trailway on Sunday 7 November 2010.

This new section links the communities of Sturminster Newton, Shillingstone and Stourpaine. Built on the former railway line, it provides a six-mile continuous route for local people and visitors to walk, horse ride or cycle along.

The trailway has also proved popular for parents with pushchairs or people on mobility vehicles. Around 72,000 journeys were recorded at Sturminster Newton last year and this new section is expected to increase the route's popularity and usability for local people and visitors alike.

Angus Campbell, leader of Dorset County Council, officially opened the new Trailway. The highlight was the opening of a new bridge spanning the River Stour in the same spot as the old railway bridge that was removed over 40 years ago. People turned up in their hundreds to be among the first to cross the new bridge.

Mr Campbell said:

"This splendid bridge has enabled the trailway to be extended to a total of six miles and the numbers who attended the opening are living proof of the public support and appreciation for the project." 

"Such achievements are always the result of the determination and hard work of a number of individuals and organisations. We are dependant on the cooperation and generosity of local landowners, the hard work of support groups, local communities and volunteers as well as the full engagement of local authorities."

"Dorset County Council had a number departments engaged in realising this vision along with North Dorset District Council and the critically important Livability Fund."

"All these organisations and individuals working together have progressed this trailway over yet another section. This is a tremendous success but there is plenty more work ahead."

The project involved close working between the Dorset Countryside ranger service, Dorset Engineering Consultancy (DEC) and Dorset Works Organisation (DWO) on organising, designing and building the bridge.

Local businesses, were also delighted with the new Trailway. Chris Sargent, from the White Horse pub in Stourpaine, said: "Village pubs and services increasingly find it difficult to survive in these tough times but the trailway coming into the village means I now need to employ more staff over the weekend, so it's good for the pub and good for jobs."

Jack Wiltshire, the county council's site manager with DWO, said: "The most difficult part of the job was replacing the old bridge support on the west side of the river, as this had to be completely rebuilt to support the new footbridge".

"The success of the project and the high level of quality in its construction is largely because all the people involved in the construction of the bridge live locally."

The steelwork was fabricated by Mervyn Rose Engineering at Bagber, the bridge handrails were built by J Bennett Joinery at Yetminster and all the construction workers live in the Blackmore Vale region.

Site foreman, Kevin Davis, added: "We always take pride in our work, but I wanted this to be absolutely perfect because so many people that I know are going to use it."

The next stage of the project is to link the trailway from Stourpaine to Blandford. Once this is open, trailway users will be able to travel safely from Blandford to Sturminster Newton without having to use the busy main roads.

For more information regarding the North Dorset Trailway, contact Dorset Countryside senior ranger on the contact below.

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