The UK’s first stainless steel road bridge has officially opened – nearly five years after its predecessor was swept away in a storm.

The 39-metre bridge over the River Eamont at Pooley Bridge, Cumbria reconnects the Ullswater valley with a permanent structure and replaces the 18th Century stone bridge destroyed during Storm Desmond in December 2015.

The bridge is designed as a single-span structure to avoid the need for piers in the river, reducing the flood risk and making the structure more flood resilient.

Around 80-tonnes of stainless steel has been used, 2,000 tonnes of concrete laid and 650 square metres of locally-sourced stone. Around 250 people have been involved in the project and the bridge has taken approximately 10,000 person hours to construct.

The council describes the multi-million pound bridge as a flagship scheme in its Infrastructure Recovery Programme, which has repaired damage inflicted by Storm Desmond to over 450 bridges, as well as large sections of road and other highway infrastructure.

The original Pooley Bridge, built in 1764, was a three-arch stone structure swept away in December 2015

Diane Bourne, managing director of Eric Wright Civil Engineering, main contractor for the project, said: ‘It’s always so sad when we lose a piece of history so it was really important that we built a new, modern bridge which would not only complement the local surroundings but which would ensure the communities either side of the River Eamont remained permanently connected for future generations to come.

‘The new bridge is slender and exceptionally strong and is designed to be resilient to any future extreme weather conditions.

“We’re very proud to deliver the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge and I’d like to thank all of the team for working so hard to complete this landmark project and to the local community for their support and patience.’