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Chester city walls

History

In the past, many important towns and cities were defended by walls, but today only Chester has a complete circuit around the city.

The Walls are about two miles long and were first built by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago. They were extended and developed in the Saxon period (10th century). During the 12th century, the Normans rebuilt and extended the Walls so for the first time since the Romans, the Walls formed a completed circuit around Chester. Throughout the middle ages, Chester was one of the most protected and strategically important cities in the county.

Since then they have been constantly altered, repaired and sometimes attacked. One of the reasons they survive today is because from the 18th century they were no longer needed for defence and were adapted to become a fashionable walk and public amenity.

Maintenance of the City Walls

We are responsible for the Walls and for many years we, and the previous city council, have ensured the ancient monument is cared for and preserved by co-ordinating general maintenance and major restoration projects. To date, since we have been responsible for them around £6m has been spent to ensure the Walls can be enjoyed by generations to come.

All work on the Walls has to be granted permission by Historic England.

Current work on the Walls

Northgate steps

The rebuilding of Chester’s historic Northgate Steps, which began in September 2019 is now complete. A set of solid, vertical steps have been revealed now the scaffold has been removed, bringing this famous section of the City Walls back to its former glory and preserving it for future generations for many years to come. Handrails have been installed and a mysterious-looking polymer panel has been put in place on the landing - this is only a temporary measure while plans to display archaeology from the site via a viewing chamber are in progress.

Although work at Northgate Steps was completed recently, a section of wall immediately west of the site also needed to be investigated in phase two of the repairs, however this section of the famous City Walls will be fully open to public before the Christmas holidays. 

Recent collapse on the City Walls

On 16 January 2020 a section of Chester’s Walls collapsed close to the famous Eastgate clock.

To ensure that residents, visitors and businesses can still enjoy this section of the Walls our engineers, alongside external specialists, have designed a temporary walkway to be incorporated into scaffolding that is needed to prop up the wall. Propping work on the collapsed section began in late August and the new walkway will open before Christmas. You can revisit this page for regular updates.

How will the wall be propped?

This will be in three phases:

Phase one: temporary work to the external face of the wall so that it cannot move and is secured. These temporary works also provide access, support the public walkway and support a temporary roof to cover the future repair work. They have had to be designed to protect the Wesley Church Centre, take into account crypts which lie between the Church and the Walls, other buried archaeology and sub-surface features, and maintain fire escape routes.

Phase two: temporary work to the internal face of the wall to prevent any further loss and create a safe working area.

Phase three: installation of a temporary roof spanning over the Walls and a weatherproof enclosure for the repair works.

The new walkway will open before Christmas this year.

How will the wall be repaired?

The repair of the wall will need Scheduled Monument Consent and plans are being prepared to submit to Historic England to agree the exact extent and nature of the repair.

Part of the wall will be carefully dismantled until engineers are satisfied the remaining structure is secure. Archaeologists will be on site throughout, recording the historic fabric and where possible this will be replaced in its original location.

Bridgegate Bridge (Lower Bridge Street)

Bridgegate Bridge at the end of Lower Bridge Street is currently closed for safety reasons pending the installation of propping. Once this work is completed this section of the City Walls can be opened to the public. Propping on the site will begin in January 2021. 

Current plans are that scaffolding will be erected during the week beginning Monday 4 January 2021 and will take around two weeks to install. To allow the work to take place and minimise disruption to traffic, an evening road closure will be needed on Lower Bridge Street, between Castle Drive and Shipgate Street, from Monday 11 January to Friday 15 January between the hours of 7pm and 10:30pm. The diversion route will be via Old Dee Bridge, Handbridge, Overleigh Road, Grosvenor Road, Grosvenor Street and Lower Bridge Street.

This action will enable this section of the City Walls to reopen, while plans are developed to permanently resolve the issues with Bridgegate Bridge.

Other work completed on the Walls

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