FLEET professor Graham Tilly knows a thing or two about bridges — he has just published a 416-page guide all about them.

His book, Conservation of Bridges, was commissioned by the Highways Agency and covers all styles of bridges.

Although it contains many international case studies including Brooklyn Bridge in New York, London's Tower Bridge, Ironbridge in Shropshire and Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge, there are also some local case studies.

One is the Zebon Copse Swing Bridge on the Basingstoke Canal, by which Prof Tilly is pictured, left.

The bridge was built around 1792 and was reconstructed in 1954 after it collapsed. It was further upgraded in 1993 when much of the original material was used in the reconstruction.

Another local bridge featured in the guide is the one at Elvetham Hall, with its magnificent brick pillars supporting wrought iron gates and flanked by brick and stone pillars.

Prof Tilly has lived in Fleet since 1961, when he got a job at the National Gas Turbine Establishment, where he worked for 12 years.

He then worked at the Transport and Road Research Laboratory in Crowthorne for 20 years where he was head of structures.

Prof Tilly is also a visiting professor at Exeter University and for the last ten years has been a director of Southampton-based bridge designer Gifford and Partners, who designed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

"Although I had no part in the bridge, we are proud of it as a group," said Prof Tilly, whose favourite is the Forth Rail Bridge.

"It really is a magnificent structure," he said. "It had the largest span in the world at the time and I admire its engineering excellence, attention to detail and the sheer size and concept that had never been tackled before."

Conservation of Bridges took two years to research and write.

It was written in conjunction with a number of organisations, including British Waterways, English Heritage, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

It is the first publication of its kind to be devoted to the protection and management of historic highway, canal, railway, river and pedestrian bridges.

With its large number of coloured photographs and historic information, it is sure to be an indispensable document for all those involved in the protection and enhancement of the country's heritage and will also be of interest to non-professional readers.

Published by Spon Press, the book costs £55 and is available from Mahers Bookshop in the Hart shopping centre.