HISTORIC rubber rolling machine the Iron Duke will return to Bradford on Avon next week after 43 years away thanks to around £100,000 in donations.

The 19th century, 12ft, 16-tonne machine that used to be in the Avon Rubber factory is being restored before going on permanent display at the Kingston Mill development in Kingston Road.

Currently unassembled in Bristol's industrial museum, work to restore the Iron Duke to its former glory is being carried out by specialist company Dorothea Restorations in Bristol from July 25, before its official unveiling on September 24.

As a result the Kingston Road will be closed between the western end of Kingston House and the entrance to the Lamb Yard first floor car park from July 25-27 as parts of the machine will be delivered to the site in instalments.

David Moss, Chairman of the Preservation Trust, said: “There is next to nothing in the town that reminds people of the importance of this historic machine and Bradford on Avon's key role in the rubber industry.

"This will be an excellent demonstration of that and it will be fantastic to have it back where it belongs. It is a fitting and welcome climax to five years of preparation that is finally coming to fruition."

Contractors have now built the reinforced plinth where the 16-tonne machine will sit with a protective roof and glass panels.

The work included driving four metal alloy pilings four metres into the ground followed by construction of a wooden plinth that has been filled with concrete last week.

“There are no diagrams of the Iron Duke, so we relied on a couple of black-and-white photographs from the Avon Rubbers works and our own engineering knowledge,” said Ruan Bester, commercial manager at Dorothea Restorations.

The one-way restriction in Mill Lane will be reversed so traffic on the road will travel uphill rather than downhill, meaning that traffic in Kingston Mills will exit via Mill Lane and not Kingston Road.

Mervyn Harris, Chairman of Bradford on Avon Museum, said: “This is a very exciting time as the Iron Duke is about to be brought home having undergone a major restoration to ensure it remains on display as a proud part of the town’s industrial heritage."

This project, which began thanks to a £10,000 donation from the late Alex Moulton, great-grandson of Avon Rubber founder Stephen Moulton, was possible courtesy of grants from Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council’s PRISM fund, Wiltshire Council, Bradford on Avon Town Council and its area board.