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Guyhirn Bridge

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Guyhirn Bridge
Location Map ( geo)
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Location
Guyhirn
County
Cambridgeshire
Highway Authority
National Highways
On road(s)
A47
Crossings related to the A47

Guyhirn Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Nene on the A47 at Guyhirn.

Ferry

By at least the nineteenth century, Guyhirn was a well established crossing point - by ferry - of the River Nene. The ferry was referenced in contemporary newspaper reports, often relating to accidents or drownings; for example, "At Guyhirn, on Sunday last, a man whose name we have not yet been informed [of] was ferried over the river to the Guyhirn side and had only proceeded a few yards along the bank when he suddenly fell down and expired."[1] . The Ferry Boat Inn stood on The Ring's End side of the river until 1990 when it was demolished to accommodate the A141's southbound entry to the Guyhirn roundabout.

When the railway arrived in Guyhirn in the 1860s it bridged both the River Nene and Morton's Leam and allowed pedestrians to cross both by footpath. It is unclear when the ferry fell entirely into disuse.

The first bridge

Proposals for a road bridge across the river at Guyhirn dated back to at least the early nineteenth century. The turnpike between Peterborough and Wisbech (via Thorney) - now the A47 - turned sharply at Guyhirn. Road traffic between Peterborough and March was forced to detour to Wisbech, five miles to the north.

From his election in 1894 and into the new century the County Councillor for the civil parish of Wisbech St Mary, of which Guyhirn is a part, William Weston, campaigned constantly for a road bridge[2] . In 1904 his work neared fruition when the Isle of Ely County Council agreed "to contribute a sum not exceeding one half of the cost, such moiety of the cost not to exceed £2,000."[3] . However his untimely death in 1912, aged 58 years, and the outbreak of war two years later intervened.

Weston's campaign was continued by his successor on the County Council, Richard Payne. Approval for the scheme was a slow process requiring the agreement of the Court of Sewers but it finally came in 1922: "It has been decided to erect a bridge over the River Nene at Guyhirne, Isle of Ely, at a cost of between £7.000 and £7,500, of which the Ministry of Transport will contribute a grant of approximately 40 per cent." [4]

The bridge was built by Messrs Baldry, Yerburgh & Hutchinson after the first contractors went into receivership. It was officially opened on 22nd April 1925 by Sir W. H. Clarke D.L. J.P., Chairman of the Isle of Ely County Council. It allowed traffic between the A47 and A141 to cross the river without need of a detour via Wisbech. The first person to officially drive across the newly opened bridge "to loud applause" was Councillor Richard Payne. This bridge was constructed entirely of reinforced concrete. It comprised of five spans, the centre being 50 feet and the side spans 36 and 30 feet respectively, thus giving a total length of 180 feet. The roadway over the bridge was 20 feet wide. On the north side of the river, because of the difference in level between the bridge and existing main road and to the proximity of the river bank, which could not be lowered, the approach road had to take a sharp turn, and was carried down with a gradient of about 1 in 20. The width of this portion had to be restricted to an average of 19 feet. [5]

It allowed traffic between the A47 and A141 to cross the river without need of a detour via Wisbech. The A141, which previously ran north of the river, was quickly downgraded as all the traffic could take the south bank route.

This bridge was officially closed on Friday 5th October 1990. [6] The bridge was demolished in 1991 once the new A47 bridge, built slightly further upstream, had been opened. The last person to drive across the old bridge was Alderman Payne’s great grandson Brian Payne JP.[7]

The second bridge

The new Guyhirn Bridge

The current bridge, carrying the A47 over the Nene at a point between the old road bridge and the railway bridge (which was still standing at the time), was officially opened on Friday 12th October 1990 by Malcolm Moss, MP for North East Cambridgeshire. It was built by Beazer Construction East Anglia, of Wisbech, at a cost of £3.65m. At the time it was predicted to carry 12,000 vehicles a day.[8]

References

  1. Cambridge Chronicle - 
  2. Eastern Daily Press - 
  3. Cambridge Independent Press -  page: p.5
  4. Staffordshire Sentinel -  page: p.2
  5. The Story of Guyhirn Bridge, transcribed from local newspapers - Payne, Brian
  6. Eastern Daily Press - 
  7. Fenland Citizen -  page: p.1
  8. Fenland Citizen -  page: p.1



Guyhirn Bridge
Related Pictures
View gallery (1)
Guyhirn New Bridge crossing the River Nene - Geograph - 4924244.jpg
Crossings of the River Nene
Badby Bridge • M1 Viaduct, near Junction 16 • Upton Way Bridge • Towcester Road Bridge • South Bridge (Northampton) • Northampton South Bypass Bridge • Bedford Road Bridge • Wellingborough Bypass Bridge • London Road Bridge (Wellingborough) • Irthlingborough Viaduct • Nene Viaduct • Oundle Bypass South Bridge • Oundle Bypass North Bridge • North Bridge (Oundle) • Wansford Bridge • Wansford Bypass Bridge • Nene Parkway Bridge • Town Bridge • Black Bridge • Dog-in-a-Doublet Bridge • Guyhirn Bridge • Freedom Bridge • Cross Keys Bridge



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