The Humber Ferry was a ferry service on the Humber between Kingston upon Hull and New Holland in Lincolnshire which operated until 1984, after the completion of the Humber Bridge in 1981.
I walked from Hull to Hessle – but you were always on my mind.
Glimpsed once or twice from a train, I’d never been up close and personal.
The Humber Bridge was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1981.
It is one of the marvels of modern engineering and was, until 1998, the longest single span suspension bridge in the world but there are now five other longer bridges of this type. However it is still the longest that can be used by pedestrians.
The bridge is 2,220 metres long and the towers, which are farther apart at the top than the bottom to compensate for the curvature of the earth, are 155 metres high. It was built at the narrowest point of the estuary known as the ‘Hessle Whelps’ and when completed it was admired for its design and elegance, but reviled by others as a bridge from nowhere to nowhere, the crossing comprises a dual carriageway with walkways for pedestrians and cyclists on both sides.
Although approval to build the bridge was granted in 1959 work did not begin until 1972 due to difficulties in financing the project. In 1966 Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister of the day, allowed Barbara Castle, the Minister for Transport, to give permission for the bridge to be built, hoping that the announcement would be a vote winner in the forthcoming Hull North by-election.
The consulting engineers for the project were Freeman Fox & Partners . Sir Ralph Freeman had produced the first ideas in 1927 and in the early 1930s the cost of the project was estimated at £1.725 million and that the bridge would be unlikely to recoup the construction or maintenance costs. In 1935 he had an idea for a 4,500-foot suspension bridge for the Humber Tunnel Executive Committee. Sir Gilbert Roberts produced more ideas in 1955 for a bridge with a 4,500-foot central span, costing £15 million, to be paid for by East Riding County Council and Lindsey County Council. Once it was likely that a bridge would be constructed, Bernard Wex produced the design in 1964 that was actually built. The bridge was built to last 120 years.
The architect was R. E. Slater ARIBA. The administration building for the tolls, was designed by Parker & Rosner. The landscaping was designed by Prof Arnold Weddle. Wind tunnel testing took place at the National Maritime Institute at Teddington and the road deck is designed for wind speeds up to 105 miles per hour (170 km/h).
Even on the calmest of days the power and sway, push and pull of wind and tide is an uplifting, hair-raising and visceral experience.
The elegantly engineered giant towers above as you gaze from the shore.
An elegy to human endeavour in concrete and steel.
The bridge is of necessity firmly anchored to the ground.
The walkway wide and high astride the estuary.
The tall towers towering above.
The whole structure tied down, anchored and suspended securely.
The mid brown waters of the Humber flowing gently below.
I walked back and to in the company of a handful of fellow travellers, on foot and bike, one of life’s best ever free rides, and reluctantly bade farewell as I headed home to Hull.
But just like just like General MacArthur I came through and I shall return.