Council to remove 'love locks' from bridge due to safety fears

Chester suspension bridge could become dangerous due to 'romantic' padlocks

Picture: Rob Stratford Only one or two 'love locks' remain at the suspension bridge in Chester
UNROMANTIC: CWaC to remove all love locks sue to safety fears

Hundreds of people walk across Chester's famous suspension bridge every single day, but the council fears it could become "dangerous" if any more love locks are placed on it.

Romantic tourists have travelled from all over the world to visit the historic city and place the locks, as symbols of ever lasting love, on Queen's Park Suspension Bridge.

But now Cheshire West and Chester Council have their hearts set on removing the locks as they say additional padlocks could make the bridge dangerous, as they could make the bridge "sway" in high winds.

The fears were sparked after part of the world-famous Pont de Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of 700,000 of the locks earlier this year.

But the Chester bridge has just 330 locks attached to its railings - weighing a total of just 24Kg or 3.77 stone.

CWaC engineers say that the extra weight of the padlocks has brought the bridge "close to its theoretical capacity to resist the effects of wind loading".

The council clarified that the locks affect the "wind surface" of the bridge, which is usually "open" to stop it swaying in the wind.

Loved-up couples have just three weeks to collect their special locks before they are taken down by the council in August - but they must have a key to remove them.

And with many of the locks being placed by overseas visitors the council admits some of the locks will never be claimed, as they will only be stored until the end of the year for couples to ring up and collect them.

Councillor Lynn Riley, executive member for localities, said: “We have taken the logical decision to act before there is any imminent danger to the public.

"At the same time we are doing the best that circumstances will allow, to respect the sensitivities of those who attached the locks and may want to have them back as a keepsake."

The locks, which have divided residents and tourists to the city, will be removed as the council begins work repairing the deteriorating anti-slip floor of the 1923 bridge despite it only being replaced as part of a massive £400,000 refurbishment project in 2012.           

Ian Cooper Gordon Emery on Queen's Park Suspension Bridge
Gordon Emery on Queen's Park Suspension Bridge
 

Spokesperson for CWaC Ian Callister said the authority had spent a lot of money restoring the bridge and didn't want the locks to cause damage to the structure as they could cause problems in high winds.

He denied it was to do with the weight of the locks.

He said: "This is a different bridge to [the Pont de Arts], it is a suspension bridge, it moves in high winds.

"We are acting now as we do not want it to get to 'danger level'."

The tokens, which symbolise ever-lasting love, have divided opinion in the city since they became increasingly visible on the bridge last year.

Couples flocked to the bridge to put locks on the much-loved landmark with many using the tokens to symbolise their love after they had been engaged or renewed their wedding vows.

And one couple even got engaged on the bridge after Daryl Cross engraved a padlock with the words 'engaged here' before proposing.

Daryl Cross and Verity Howard have put a love lock on the suspension bridge
ROMANCE: Daryl Cross and Verity Howard hoped to revisit their proposal love lock
 

Verity Howard had been with her boyfriend for five years when he proposed last year.

She said: "I think it's a lovely idea and it's somewhere we can come back to in years to come and remember the memories created.”

And, despite questioning whether the locks are graffiti or art the locks have even gained support from the vice dean of Chester Cathedral Howell Jones who said they were "reassuring" message in a world filled with "aggression and hatred". 

He said: “At first, I was quite shocked to see all the locks and wondered whether they were another act of vandalism.

“When I got to the other middle, I stopped and began to read them. I thought it was quite profound that people were expressing their love for one another in a public way.

“In a world where there is so much aggression and hatred it is quite reassuring to know that people are prepared to express their love in this way."

In October last year the council faced criticism on twitter after dozens of the locks, many of which are engraved with names and special messages, mysteriously disappeared from the bridge.

But it appeared the mystery was solved when a man was spotted cutting down the few remaining locks with a pair of large bolt croppers - his actions were caught on camera.

A film was even made by award-winning photographer Ian Southerin about the locks, which we shared on our facebook page to track down some of the romantic couples who had proclaimed their love on the bridge.

Searching For Something I Do Not Know was filmed in Chester during July’s Northgate Street Festival and is set to the poem of the same name by US poet Garrett Beget.

Poll loading …

Read more on the Queen's Bridge 'love locks' here:

Graffiti or art on city bridge?

Where have all the ‘love locks’ gone?

Chronicle reader solves missing 'love locks' mystery

 

 
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