2:53pm Friday 25th October 2013
By Stuart Laundy
FOR generations, youngsters with a keen sense of adventure have dived off a footbridge which spans the Tees at Barnard Castle.
However, the antics of those who continue this tradition have become a cause for concern among residents living in a converted mill next to the Thorngate bridge.
They say youths are clambering out of the river and climbing back up to the bridge through a private access gate and across their patios and flood prevention barriers.
As a result, plans have been drawn up which propose a number of measures to improve security at Thorngate Mill and keep the trespassers out.
These include a 2.1m high metal mesh gate, the installation of anti-climb poles and dividing fences up to 3m high between the patios.
Barnard Castle mayor, Councillor Frank Harrision, told a meeting a of the town council's planning committee he was among those who had jumped into the river from the bridge when he was younger.
Deputy mayor, Coun John Blissett, said the measures to keep divers off patios and flood barriers should have been included when the building was converted into apartments.
Thorngate Mill was built in 1848 as a spinning mill for worsted, a fabric used in carpet making.
Worsted production ceased in 1863, but by 1870, the mill was being used to make clothing material.
By the end of the century, it had fallen into disuse, eventually reopening in 1919 as a car manufacturing plant.
However, this venture lasted just four years and after lying empty for a decade, it reopened as a mill making woollen and worsted goods in the 1930s.
By the late 1970s, industrial use had ceased and in the late 1980s the mill was home to a book retailer, before standing vacant from the mid-1990s.
Then in 2004 it was converted into 16 apartments which sell for up to £200,000.
The building is maintained by Darlington-based Town and City Management, who have submitted the planning application.
In a statement to planners, the company says the actions of youths and adults jumping off the bridge and then climbing back over private property is “a source of growing security and safety unease.”
The company says rather than confront those causing the problem, prevention is the preferred course of action.
Barnard Castle Town Council raised no objections to the proposals.
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