A 140-year-old railway bridge which was going to be filled with thousands of tonnes of concrete will now be refurbished.

The Church Road Bridge in Barcombe near Lewes was going to be infilled due to fractures appearing over time and concerns over the strength of the bridge.

There was uproar at these plans and nearly 200 villagers signed a joint letter to National Highways’ executive director asking to halt them.

The ownership of the bridge has now been transferred to East Sussex County Council which will look to refurbish the structure.

The Argus: People campaigned to save the Church Road bridge in BarcombePeople campaigned to save the Church Road bridge in Barcombe (Image: Supplied)

Hazel Fell Rayner, who leads the campaign, said: “There is a huge relief in the community that the highways team has emphasised its intent to repair the bridge with minimal changes to its appearance and no change to the weight limit - which is so important to Barcombe’s farmers.

“Infill would have blocked an important and sensitive wildlife corridor adjacent to ancient woodland, and across the community, hundreds of residents got involved in the campaign to save the bridge.

“It felt like a David and Goliath battle but we are so pleased to have arrived at this very different outcome, where we look forward to the bridge being repaired sensitively for both community and biodiversity benefit.”

In an email to campaigners, East Sussex Highways said it was determined to retain both its “historical aesthetics” and the existing 20-tonne weight limit.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We can confirm we have taken ownership of Church Road Bridge in Barcombe from National Highways.

“The bridge will be inspected by our Highway engineers in the coming weeks, and we will engage with the local community over the plans for the bridge before work to strengthen and sympathetically repair it is carried out in due course.”