Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Goodbye Shoreham Footbridge. Hello Adur Ferry Bridge

Hello and welcome to my blog. It’s lovely to see you again. 
      The imminent opening of the new footbridge, (christened the Adur Ferry Bridge), is a major topic of conversation on the Beach. Sadly, it's usually in disparaging terms.
      As we know, the old footbridge was in constant use.  Being a short cut to town, kids used it to get to school, disabled people whizzed across on their mobility scooters and pedestrians strolled over to do their shopping, visit the library, and have lunch. In short, you name it, we did it.
      Most of us had never known life without the footbridge, yet the anticipated five-week closure was greeted with resignation.  When this was suddenly extended to a permanent closure, resignation changed to mild irritation.  Then the bridge’s re-opening was delayed in August, so irritation turned to grumbling and criticism.  It's now been more than a year since it closed, so grumbles have matured into frustration and impatience.
      Rumours have circulated of a petition against the delay and a protest march across the bridge. In fact, the mood has been summoned up by a graffiti artist. 


Behind the board are the men responsible for the project. Tony Bathmaker, Project Manager with West Sussex Country Council, and Paul Reader, Project Manager for Osborne, the contractors. 
      Tony Bathmaker is passionate about his job. He knows Shoreham well as he led the team responsible for the award-winning restoration of Shoreham Toll Bridge. He’s proud of that, and this, project.  Both men are, so they have been stung by the criticism of tardiness. 

You may not be able to see people crawling all over the bridge, but that does not mean we’re dragging our heels. We’re working on less obvious aspects of the build, like mechanical and electrical testing on the span section of the bridge; lighting checks; installation of the few remaining glass panels; completion of the handrail on the north side; completion of the ramp on the south side; re-surfacing of the central walkway; training staff on how to operate and maintain the span; dealing with snagging problems as and when they arise and when the time comes, dismantling the site. This will be done, for the most part, when the bridge is open to the public, but it will not be a cause for further delay.
      All the guys here are dedicated and proud to be involved in building an iconic bridge in Shoreham. With hindsight we could always have done better, but the delays have, for the most part, been caused by the persistent very low temperatures during winter and early spring that prevented laying the concrete deck, and the collapse of the supplier responsible for fabricating the glass panels in late summer. 
      They’re not caused by lack of commitment. Our commitment to the job is total and we’re all working as hard as we can to get it finished. We know how important the bridge is to the community so it will not be closed a day longer than necessary.”

I believe him. I just have to learn to be more patient. Talking of which, the essay I co-wrote with Alison Lapper on, “What makes us human?” will finally be broadcast on BBC Radio Two on 16th October at 1.00 p.m. Please listen if you can.
      Talking of listening, we went to West Dean GROW! COOK! EAT! Festival on a glorious Sunday afternoon and after feasting on lots of little cheese samples, we sat down with a hog roast bap and enjoyed the sound of Ward Thomas, a rock-country duo. I reckon they would go down a storm at Ropetackle.
      That’s all for now, but please remember to put 16th October in your diary. It’s the biggest thing I’ve done so far and I’d love to share it with you.

Ta-ra ‘til next time.

PS. Here's a link to details of the official opening. http://lifeon-shorehambeach.blogspot.co.uk


  1. I can't wait for the footbridge to reopen. It'll make the journey between The Duke of Wellington pub and home sooo much quicker! And it does look the business too! Well done chaps, even in the face of the criticisms, I think you've built something we will all take for granted again soon and forget that it was ever delayed. On to the next phase then....

  2. Totally agree. It will be marvellous when it's done. I almost feel sorry for the Norfolk Bridge, it'll look dowdy compared to it's neighbours. Remember what it used to look like?