SOUTHEND High Street came to a standstill this weekend as it received a major facelift.

A large stretch of the shopping thoroughfare was closed as a huge crane, trucks and dozens of workers were brought in to replace the town’s iconic railway bridge.

More than 130 years after it was first installed, engineers from Network Rail took fewer than two days to rip it out and install a new, £2million replacement.

The grand project was watched by a gripped audience for much of the weekend and broadcast around the world on Twitter.

The plan to replace the old bridge, which was no longer structurally sound, has taken 18 months to pull together.

Workers were on site checking and delicately removing signalling, lighting and fibre-optic cables for about four weeks before Saturday.

On the day itself, engineers used a 16-wheel vehicle with an elevating platform, called a self-propelled modular transporter, to drive directly under the steel bridge and carry it away.

Its replacement, a much slimmer, blue-painted version, was then brought in.

Engineers relaid the track on Sunday and the bridge was open in time for this morning’s rush hour. A spokesman for Network Rail said everything had gone according to plan.