YORK'S Millennium Bridge has 'fallen' victim to October's heavy downpours.

Heavy rain, a week's worth falling yesterday alone, and a 'flood watch' now in force, scuppered plans to launch the bridge tomorrow because the River Ouse is becoming too swollen.

The eleventh-hour postponement has disappointed dozens of contractors, engineers and members of the Millennium Bridge Trust, who were all geared up to watch the momentous occasion.

Now an alternative date - possibly early next week - is being sought as yet more rain was predicted for the next 48 hours.

The 'flood watch' - second only to a flood warning - has been issued by the Environment Agency in the Vale of York, from Catterick to Cawood.

Trust manager Paul Chesmore said: "The river is rising now and the weather forecast over the next two days is not at all good.

"Now we have to wait for the conditions to improve, for the river to go back down and then we need to seek approval from British Waterways to seal off the area of the river on another day.

"My hunch is that it will be early next week, but we can't be sure."

The bridge, inspired by the simple design of a bicycle wheel, is all but finished but the main deck and supporting arc remain on the river bank near Rowntree Park.

When the weather finally permits, it will be transferred to a floating pontoon and slowly moved into position before being secured in place.

A spokesman at the Press Association weather centre said the city had already experienced nearly three times the average of rainfall for a week in the last few days. "It is going to be a pretty wet one," he said.

"Some 16 millemetres of rain fell yesterday - a total of 37.2mm for the last seven days. It is a pretty wet October."

He added that it was also milder than usual, and the downpours were set to continue for "the conceivable future".