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Rhinefield Bridge
Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire, UK
associated engineer
Edwin Gifford
date  1949 - 1950
UK era  Modern  |  category  Bridge  |  reference  SU266046
Rhinefield Bridge in the New Forest is the first prestressed post-tensioned concrete bridge to be designed and constructed in the UK. It carries a single-lane road over the Black Water stream and is still used by road traffic.
Dr Edwin Gifford, the county bridge engineer to Hampshire County Council, designed Rhinefield Bridge. He went on to found consulting engineering firm E.W.H. Gifford & Partners in 1951 (its successor was taken over by Ramboll in March 2011). The bridge has a single span shallow arch of 10m, founded on short piles sunk into the stream embankments. It carries a 3.2m wide deck made of seven longitudinal precast concrete planks, between precast concrete edge beams topped with timber railings.
This is one of the earliest bridges to have both longitudinal and transverse post-tensioning, a design that improves load-sharing capabilities. Its precast components were simple to assemble, and the design was in the vanguard of a series of experimental precast post-tensioned segmental bridges built by Gifford.
Rhinefield Bridge uses the system of prestressing developed by French engineer Eugène Freyssinet (1879-1962) in the early 20th century. Prestressing is a technique used to counteract concrete's weakness in tension, improving its loadbearing capability. Here, steel tendons have been threaded through the precast concrete beams of the bridge deck, post-tensioned by stretching, and then anchored in place so that they tend to compress the concrete, increasing its strength.
The bridge deck has a slight upward curvature, which allowed the two longitudinal cables to be almost straight, reducing friction. Of the six transverse cables, four are located around the mid span, with one at either end of the deck.
The bridge was heritage listed as Grade II in May 1998. Richard Coackley, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, visited Rhinefield Bridge on 29th June 2012 and unveiled a plaque commemorating its building and recognising its designer.
Research: ECPK
"A Review of The Development of Prestressed Concrete" by Gordon Clark, Gifford (undated, probably in range 2005-10)
"Historic Concrete: Background to Appraisal" by R. J. M. Sutherland, Dawn Humm and Mike Chrimes, Thomas Telford, 2001

Rhinefield Bridge