Two 13th century archways which formed part of Banbury’s medieval bridge over the River Cherwell are to be restored as a historic landmark.
The restoration work on the arches, which are now part of the railway bridge, is being carried out by Banbury Town Council, Banbury Civic Society and Network Rail.
Seven arches once raised the road into Banbury above the low riverside land as a protection against flooding.
Banbury Town Council leader Kieron Mallon explained: “The two remaining archways are a hidden gem – part of Banbury’s medieval history that few people know about.
“This preservation work is being done free-of-charge by Network Rail as part of its maintenance work on the railway bridge.
“Removing the vegetation that is slowly destroying the archways will make sure they are preserved for future generations.”
He added: “Banbury Town Council is pleased to be part of a project that protects the town’s history and this is an ideal opportunity to be involved in something that preserves Banbury’s distant past.”
The council owns Bridge Street Park and is looking at ways to transform the archways into a key feature of the park.
The bridge was built in the 13th century by the Bishop of Lincoln, who controlled Banbury. It remained in place until Brunel designed the first railway bridge in 1850 – a project that destroyed much of the medieval structure.
The brickwork that covers the surviving medieval arches is all that remains of Brunel’s bridge.
Network Rail will carry out the restoration free of charge as part of its current maintenance work on the river channel and will remove saplings that have taken root in the ancient stonework.
Rob Kinchin-Smith of Banbury Civic Society said: “The arches are very important – there is very little left from Banbury’s medieval period .
“The Civic Society has been pressing Network Rail since 2011 to do something about trees growing from the archways. We are delighted that work is now being carried out and we look forward to seeing the finished job.”