HENLEY Bridge is undergoing repairs that will cost about £200,000. Limestone blocks need replacing after they were knocked off when a cruiser called Crazy Love collided with the Grade I listed structure last August.
Stonemasons will operate from scaffolding set up on pontoons in the River Thames.
The work, which is due to be completed in November, involves cutting out damaged stonework and replacing it with new masonry that will be chiselled into precise shapes on the pontoons.
Oxfordshire County Council has arranged for the work to take place from this week so that it causes least disruption to Henley’s tourism trade. The repairs could not be carried out during winter due to high river flows and the cold.
The road across the bridge will remain open although it may be necessary to restrict pedestrian access to one of the two footways.
Use of temporary traffic signals or stop-go boards may also be required when building materials are being delivered during off-peak hours. The river will still be navigable but there will be restrictions on which arches can be used.
Rodney Rose, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “It’s hugely important to ensure treasured landmarks such as Henley Bridge receive due care and attention and I’m sure this work will succeed in strengthening the bridge for years to come.
“Inevitably, the project will temporarily detract from the appearance of the bridge and create some noise and dust, which will be kept to a minimum as far as possible.”
The council will not be pursuing compensation from individual boat owners for damage caused.
A spokesman said: “It’s very difficult to match areas of damage with specific incidents. Much of the damaged stonework would have required replacement or repair in any event.”
He added that any costs recovered would have been a small fraction of the overall cost of the repairs.
Meanwhile, work being carried out at Henley town hall is due to finish this week.
Scaffolding has been erected on the building in Market Place so it can be painted and the gutters cleaned.
The windows, pipes and bell tower are being decorated and the weather vane will be greased in situ because it can’t be removed.
Wokingham firm AC Beck & Son is carrying out the work.
Robin Beck, the firm’s financial director, said: “The work is going well and we’re due to finish this week as long as the weather keeps.
“We’ve done minor repairs and repaired and repainted the windows.”
The town council’s finance strategy and management committee approved a quotation of £13,490 for the work.
It’s thought the building was last refurbished in 2002.