THE OTHER HUMBER BRIDGE - CONTINUED FROM ISSUE 23


Back to the Bridge. Plainly any interference with the supply of materials could seriously affect production at FCL and the Petition sets out their arguments against what they, and others, saw as an ill-conceived project. The "others" included more County and local Councils, Chambers of Shipping, Railway Companies who obviously had an axe to grind, also the very powerful Humber Conservancy Board. The Humber Conservancy Act gave the Board wide powers that they still have and still use. Barton land and property owners were apprehensive and the minor sloop and keel owners feared interference with their livelihoods.
The main objections were:

  1. The river had a shifting bed and the navigable channels moved as river conditions changed, there are still many people in this area who have seen large cargo vessels passing majestically between Reads Island and the main road, the A1077, opposite the Cement works. The Bill contained provision to re-site the main span so this was a possibility not unknown to the Engineers.
  2. The Petitioners said the design and construction methods were defective on Engineering grounds. The Geology was such as to cause problems in construction, increasing costs. (Freeman and Co. could have remembered that could they not?)
  3. The piers for the spans would cause silting. Look at the build up at the modern Barton Tower.
  4. Navigation would be rendered hazardous particularly in very bad weather or in fog.
  5. Insofar as the FCL was concerned they feared that raw materials would not reach their plants. The many spans on the Barton side would have been a real problem to sailing vessels. This is a dangerous river at the times of bad weather and big tides.
  6. There were other lesser objections but I have, I hope drawn attention to some of the problems envisaged by the Petitioners.

At the time this construction was proposed, the river was a hive of activity, sloops and keels under sail, powered barges, seagoing vessels moved up and down particularly at the time of High water. I condensed this article from notes I prepared for a talk on the subject, for there is much of local interest in this proposal. It may be thought that Mr Freeman took on board much that he had learned about the river and the problems involved in Bridging it when he came to be concerned in the construction of the present Humber Bridge, even so he and his Company still had many problems to solve.
In 1937 the question of the Bridge was raised again, this time a Suspension Bridge but, of course, war clouds loomed and there the matter rested.
I will add one note about the dangers of this river. In about 1935, or so, I am not sure of the date, a distant water trawler, the Edgar Wallace, came back from the fishing grounds and when manoeuvring to enter the Fish Dock at Hull the vessel was rolled over by the fierce flowing tide, when it struck a sandbank that had built up in the River during the relatively short time they had been away on the fishing grounds and was, therefore, not known to them. The vessel was sunk with the loss of lives in sight of many waiting for it to berth.

Charles Watkinson
8 Castledyke South
Barton

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2001 Dazxtm