MANCHESTER -Medieval bridges that have lain hidden from view for a century under Rochdale town centre are set to be uncovered as part of a £4.2m project. The River Roch was the lifeblood of the town during the Industrial Revolution but has been covered since the 1920s when the seven bridges were joined to make what was the widest crossing in the world at the time.

Now part of this underground labyrinth will be restored to its former glory, revealing one bridge that dates back to the 17th century. The project is part of an attempt to regenerate the town centre by creating a more attractive environment for residents and visitors.

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After a series a modern load-baring tests, engineers from Rochdale Council and the Environment Agency have established that the pre-1600s bridge meets modern safety standards and will be opened to the public and traffic. It is part of a £4.2m project which will see three sections of the culvert removed to reveal the multi-phased bridge on The Butts and the bottom of Yorkshire Street in the town centre.