Residents of Faversham joined Network Rail, Faversham Council and Helen Whately MP at St Catherine’s Church to celebrate the reopening of a footbridge after an extensive makeover.

The bridge has carried thousands of residents, churchgoers and passengers over the railway between Station Road and the church in St Catherine’s Drive, since the early 20th century.

It was removed in October last year so it could be strengthened and refurbished, which means it will be open in time for Faversham’s Hop Festival in late August, when thousands of people descend on the town for a weekend of live music and entertainment.

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, said: “It’s a pleasure to be opening the new and improved footbridge. The refurbishment was badly needed and now the bridge is open again, it will be much easier to get across town, especially for people living on the south side.

“Faversham station is the gateway to the town and an important part of our heritage; that’s why I’m supporting the Faversham Society’s campaign to completely restore its Victorian glory. The renovation of the footbridge is a big step forward.”

David Brearey, project manager for Network Rail, added: “We’re delighted to unveil the new, improved Preston Lane footbridge. We’ve not only strengthened the bridge but spruced it up to enhance its heritage features and make sure it’s better able to serve the local community for many years to come.”

Jon Hamer, churchwarden at St Catherine’s Church, said: “Network Rail and their sub-contractors BAM Nuttall, have done a superb job in giving back a bridge that has been in place for 100 years and looks as good as new.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to the local residents for their patience while the work was being done over the last six months and the inconvenience it has caused them. Once again, local people will be able to use the bridge and easily access the church. I hope most people would agree that the bridge looks great and all the effort and inconvenience have been worth it.”

Saturday 13 April marked six months since the railway footbridge over Faversham station was removed in three sections, using a huge crane. The footbridge has carried thousands of locals over the railway since the early 20th century and was originally due to be restored in January.

However, once removed, it was found that the steel bridge had decayed more than originally thought which meant a longer period of refurbishment was required.