11:40AM, Monday 13 August 2012
Concerns have been expressed over the condition of Maidenhead Railway Bridge following its upgrade to Grade I-listed status.
Ernest Kohout, who has lived near the landmark for 42 years, contacted the Advertiser because he fears plants and weeds growing from the brickwork could lead to structural damage.
The red brick bridge has also been a target for graffiti artists.
"It's disgraceful. It's just getting worse and worse," he said. "You wouldn't get Stonehenge looking like that."
The 75-year-old, who lives off Chauntry Road, believes the problem has worsened over the last 10 years.
He said work had to be carried out on the bridge a couple of years ago because a tree was damaging the brickwork.
"The whole of the parapet will eventually have to be rebuilt if they don't act," he added.
The grandfather-of-two, whose own grandfather was a railway engineer in his native Austria, has always been fascinated by trains and railways.
"It's a beautiful bridge," he said. "There must be a remedy."
The bridge had its protected status upgraded following a consultation by English Heritage which saw more than 40 railway structures either listed or re-graded.
Built by the father of railway engineering, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, between 1837-39, it is believed to have the longest and flattest brick arches ever built and was previously Grade II*-listed.
Responsibility for its upkeep lies with Network Rail.
A Network Rail spokesman said: "Our priority is to run a safe and reliable railway. The bridge is inspected annually to ensure it remains in good condition.
"We carry out maintenance when necessary to keep vegetation in check. Longer term we hope to permanently remove buddleia that is growing in the bridge structure. This is a bigger job so we’ll combine it with Crossrail works that are planned for the bridge over the coming years, so as to reduce disruption to the railway.
"We recently cleaned Maidenhead viaduct to remove all graffiti. We’re investigating the latest case, with a view to taking action to keep the viaduct looking its best."
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