The Bridging of the Humber

Early Ideas of Bridging the Humber

There was a need to cross the Humber from very early in the history of Barton, and a ferry crossing was around at least as early as Roman times, probably somewhere near Poor Farm as this was the first point along the Humber that had a solid chalky shore and not the muddy banks further down.  This ferry service was mentioned in the Domesday book (although possibly not in the same place) and continued for many years (click here for a history of crossing the Humber by ferry).  In the mid-1800s however a permanent crossing was desired.  This initial suggestion was based around a railway line linking Hull with Goole and Doncaster, and at this time a tunnel under the Humber was even suggested.  The next proposal was a line linking Hull with Lincoln, crossing the Humber at Hessle and passing a mile or so west of Barton.  Even at this early stage it was known as the "Humber Bridge Scheme".  This scheme was knocked back when in 1865 it was not given the capital needed to complete it.  This proposal was raised again in 1882 when it was reported in the London Gazette (28 November 1882) that In Parliament - session 1883

"Hull and Lincoln Railway
(Incorporation of Company; power to make Railways with a bridge over the Humber; ......"

There was to be 15 parts to this railway, Railway number 8 and 9 relating to the parish of Barton and was reported as:

"Railway No. 8, wholly situate in the intermixed parishes of Saint Mary and Saint Peter, Barton-upon-Humber, in the parts of Lindsey, in the county of Lincoln, commencing by a junction with the intended Railway No. 1, at a point on the fence forming the eastern boundary of a field belonging or reputed to belong to James Grassby, and in occupation, such field being situate on the northern side of the Ings-road, opposite and to the east of the junction with the Four Ings-road with the said Ings-road, such point being 88 yards or thereabouts, measuring along that fence in a northerly direction from the southern end of that fence at the Ings-road, and terminating by a junction with the Barton-upon-Humber branch of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, at the termination thereof."

"Railway No. 9, wholly situated in the intermixed parishes of Saint Mary and Saint Peter, Barton-upon-Humber, in the parts of Lindsey, in the county of Lincoln, commencing by a junction with the intended Railway No. 1, at the public road known as Dam-road, at a point 370 yards or thereabouts, measuring in a westerly direction along that road with the Four Ings-road, and terminating by a junction with the intended Railway No. 8 at the said Dam-road, at a point 33 yards or thereabouts, measuring in an easterly direction along that road from the said junction of that road with Four Ings-road."

Railway No. 7 was proposed to be in Hull following the Selby line, to around Hessle, and Railway No. 10 was proposed to go through Appleby.  The report in the London Gazette would suggest the proposed bridge would have been built somewhere near the existing bridge, but probably a little further west, and the line would travel along field boundaries in the Ings to link up with the current station, and then leave Barton by travelling along Dam Road.

This scheme was rejected again as the promoters could not satisfy the Commons Committee that the bridge would not interfere with the shipping on the Humber.  The main concerns were the number of support pillars in the Humber supporting the bridge.  At this point a suspension bridge had not been considered.  A few more attempts was made to propose a railway crossing over the Humber, but none were successful.

History of the Humber Bridge (How was it built?)

The railway crossing idea was abandoned and in the 1930's a multi-span road bridge was designed for the river Humber.  This bridge would have cost around 1.75m, with the Ministry of Transport covering 75% of the cost in the form of a grant.  This Bill was passed but then subsequently withdrawn due to the financial crisis which then hit the country.  The following years were difficult and the war put paid to any real chance of building a bridge at that time.  However the bill was revived and updated in 1955.  Again the Bill was agreed and an Act of Parliament was passed in 1959 (the Humber Bridge Act 1959) to build a single span suspension bridge from Barton upon Humber to Hessle, joining Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.  The decision to build the Humber bridge was finally made on 30 April 1969.

The Humber Bridge During Construction

The two towers - courtesy of M Stockdale Work on the south tower - courtesy of M Stockdale
The two towers during construction. The caissons on the south bank.

Work on the bridge finally started in July 1972 when work on the embankment on the Barton side began and in March the following year work began on the anchorage, tower foundations and towers.  The anchorages are where the cables are attached.  The south anchorage has foundations to 35 metres and the north anchorage has foundations to 21 metres. The north tower was completed in 1974 but the south tower was still being prepared.  This was because the north tower was built on a hard bed of chalk but there was a problem finding a suitable place to build on the south side.  Finally the south side was built on some heavy fissured Kimmeridge clay which was in the river about 30 metres down.  The depth of the foundations of both towers illustrate this.  The north tower has foundations to a depth of 8 metres whereas the south tower has foundations to a depth of 36 metres.  This meant the south tower was not completed until 1976.  To build the south tower a 500 metre long jetty with a cofferdam was built to create an artificial island (note of interest - there is a time capsule at the bottom of one of the caissons.).  The spinning of the cables started in 1977 and finished in 1979 when the box sections started to be put into place.  There are 124 hollow deck sections, each weighing 130 tonnes and 18 metres long.  In July 1980 the last piece of deck was hung and was welded by December.  The tarmac was laid ready for the opening by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 17th July 1981. (The Bridge had been open to traffic since June 1981).

The Humber Bridge During Construction

Bringing the deck down the river - courtesy of M Stockdale Lifting the last piece of deck - courtesy of M Stockdale
A section of the decking coming down the river. A section of decking being lifted into position.
The ferry passing by the tower - courtesy of M Stockdale Sadly part of the deck collapsing - courtesy of M Stockdale
The ferry passing the north tower. A section of decking collapsed on the north side.


The Statistics of the Humber bridge and the Bridge Today:-

A main span of 1410m, north span of 280m and south span of 530m making a total length between anchorages of 2220m.  The deck is 28.5m wide and the tower height above the deck is 155.5m.  It has a clearance over high water of 30m.  There are 27500 tonnes of steel and 480000 tonnes of concrete.  The cables are 0.62m in diameter, having 14948 parallel galvanised drawn steel wires.  Each wire is about 5mm in diameter, with the total length of wire being 71000km and a load in each cable of 27500 tonnes.  The towers consist of two tapered vertical reinforced concrete legs braced together with four reinforced concrete horizontal beams.  The legs are 155m high and vary from 6m*6m at the base to 4.5m*4.75m at the top.  The roadway is a dual 2-lane carriageway, with combined footway/cycleway to the side and slightly lower.  The carriageways are surfaced with a 38mm thickness of mastic asphalt and the footways with a double dressing of rubber bitumen and 3mm chippings.  Along the side of the carriageways are crash barriers.  Theses consist of four tensioned wire ropes.  The anchorages are massive concrete structures where the main cables splay out into separate strands and attach to steel crosshead slabs at the face of the anchor blocks.  The North Anchorage weighs 190000 tonnes and the South Anchorage weighs 300000 tonnes.

On 24th September 1993 the 50,000,000th vehicle passed over the bridge and on 8th February 2002 the 100,000,000th vehicle passed over the bridge.


The Humber Bridge Today

This picture shows the length of the south section. This picture shows the curve of the bridge.
This picture shows the length of the south section. This picture shows the curve of the bridge.
The underside of the bridge looking north. The Humber Bridge from the air looking towards Barton
The underside of the bridge looking north. An aerial view of the bridge.


Other Interesting Facts :-


Related Links (inbarton is not responsible for the content of external Internet websites)

The Humber Bridge - The official Humber Bridge Website

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