Ceremony marks naming of Ian Mercer Memorial Bridge
Posted on: 13 December 2016
A new bridge on Dartmoor has been named in memory of the late Professor Ian Mercer.
The bridge at Steward Wood, near Moretonhampstead, was installed by Devon County Council earlier this year as part of the latest section of the Wray Valley Trail.
The Moretonhampstead History Society requested that the newly installed bridge be named in the memory of the late Professor Ian Mercer CBE, who died in September, aged 83, and the dedication ceremony was organised with the support of Dartmoor National Park Authority and Devon County Council.
Professor Mercer was an influential member of the Moretonhampstead History Society. Among his achievements was that he was the first county conservation officer in England when appointed by Devon County Council, the first chief officer for Dartmoor National Park Authority and the first Secretary General of the Association of National Park Authorities.
At the naming ceremony of the Ian Mercer Memorial Bridge, a plaque was unveiled by Professor Mercer’s widow Pamela. As well as citing his achievements, the plaque also reads: “A man of great sympathy, insight and passion for Dartmoor, he was a ‘bridge builder’ himself. An inspiration to all those who knew him, and all those who love Dartmoor.”
Bill Hardiman, Chairman of the Moretonhampstead History Society, said: “We are very grateful to Devon County Council and Dartmoor National Park for agreeing so readily to name the bridge in memory of Professor Ian Mercer who was Chairman and President of our society for 36 years. The engineers are to be congratulated for the plaque to commemorate his achievements that will be seen by future generations of users of the Wray Valley Trail that he helped so much to bring about.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for cycling, said: “This is a fitting tribute to Professor Ian Mercer, who was a pioneer for conservation when he joined the County Council, and he continued with that vital work throughout his life. The bridge itself is a great addition to the Wray Valley Trail and is enabling more people to enjoy Dartmoor – which, I’m sure, Professor Mercer would have approved of.”
Bill Hitchins, Chairman of Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: “Ian Mercer was National Park Officer for 17 years and his achievements during that time were instrumental in shaping the National Park we know today. In particular his steering of the Dartmoor Commons Act through parliament, enabling access rights on Dartmoor, was well ahead of their time. It is fitting that this new bridge, enabling better access through this beautiful Dartmoor valley, so close to his beloved Moretonhampstead, is dedicated to his memory.”
Councillor George Gribble, Devon County Councillor for Bovey Tracey Rural, said: “Having known Ian Mercer for many years I’m extremely pleased and proud to have been involved in this very worthwhile project and in the bridge naming.”
The dedication ceremony was attended by members of the Moretonhampstead History Society, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Devon County Council, contractor Dyer & Butler, parish councillors and local residents.
The £500,000 structure, funded by Devon County Council, is a 25-metre span bridge over the A382. It has helped extend the Wray Valley Trail cycle route from Moretonhampstead to Bovey Tracey.
The scheme is part of the Granite and Gears project which aims to develop a network of multi-use trails to open up access and increase cycling on Dartmoor. The project was awarded £4.4 million from The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Cycling Ambition fund in 2013, and is also supported with an additional £3 million from Local Transport Plan funding, developer contributions, and funding from Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park, Teignbridge District Council and West Devon Borough Council.
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