The stuff that doesn't fit into my main blog Random Radio Jottings

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Bridge to Nowhere?

Today sees the 30th anniversary of the official opening of the Humber Bridge. The bridge’s northern towers were just a few miles away from where I was brought up at Brough. For many years the trip to see relatives in north Lincolnshire involved a train journey to Hull, a walk down to Victoria Pier and then a crossing on the Humber ferry – the Tattershall, Lincoln and Wingfield Castles.  It was either that or a long road trip via Goole – over Boothferry Bridge before the M62 Ouse crossing was built – Crowle, Scunthorpe and Barton. But from 1981 it was just a short drive over the new suspension bridge for a £1 toll.

Living locally we’d seen the towers rising up at Hessle and offshore at Barton and watched the road sections coming into what had been Priory Road sidings before being moved across to the bridge site. Those early bridge crossings by car were quite exciting for us, though they didn’t have the romance of the old paddle steamers.

Work on the bridge had started in 1973 and was planned to complete by 1977. In the event it took eight years to span the Humber and on Wednesday 24 June 1981 the Hull Daily Mail reported on opening of the bridge to the public:

Years of doubt, uncertainty and frustration faded into just a memory as Coun. Alex Clarke, chairman of the Humber Bridge Board, paid the first £1 note ever to be handed over at Hessle as a toll to the world on the other side of the murky river.

Hundreds of cheering and waving Humbersiders gathered to watch as Coun. Clarke’s Triumph estate car drove up to the barrier to start a 15 minute voyage into history as he crossed for the first official journey into south Humberside.

After an initial delay caused by a bomb scare – followed later by a delay in finding a driver for a double decker KHCT bus carrying the Bridge Board members, Coun. Clarke put his foot on the accelerator to move off at a steady 10 miles an hour on a journey of a lifetime.

The first members of the public to cross the bridge after Coun. Clarke

Here’s how that night’s News at Ten covered the story, the report starts 6:57 in.

The official opening by the Queen followed on 17 July. I can find no audio or video for that event but I do have this rather blurred photo below – taken on my old Instamatic - of the Royal train approaching Brough station. You’ll just have to take my word for it as it looks like an ordinary diesel loco from this shot.

I did once get the opportunity to go down into the North bank anchorage and round the control room so this video posted by the BBC’s Sarah Cruddas about bridge maintenance is interesting.

The toll for cars increases to £3 from 1 October.

Humber Bridge Commemorative Cover

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