(aka: Walney Bridge)
In 1897 a public meeting was held within Barrow-in-Furness town hall after a period of unrest amongst the Walney folk to discuss a possible bridge being constructed and mark it as a suitable way to commemorate the 'diamond jubilee' of Queen Victoria. Although it never came to fruition it did identify that a further consideration for a bridge should be given, thus a group was formed and aptly named the 'Access to Walney Sub-Committee' to address the issue.
The Access to Walney Sub-Committee opened negotiations with Vickers Sons & Maxim for the provision of a bridge. In 1904 a public meeting was held to inform of the negotiations and their outcomes, and although a vote was recorded in favour of a bridge the Furness Railway Company still were to become the biggest hurdle, as they stated that they didn't want anything that would interfere with any navigation within the channel and also it must be said that 'they were not happy with the idea of losing the ever increasing revenue from their 'ferry service'.
The Furness Railway Company were known to be against any form of bridging Walney Channel during the late 1800's and early 1900's as they themselves were the sole owners and operators of the Walney-Island to Barrow-Island steam ferry service, although their statements for disapproval at the time were focused on the navigation of the channel to shipping, hence why to this day there is an opening span in the bridge's centre.
A certain Mr. Benjamin Fish 'as manager' of the Walney Estate Company was in favour of a bridge to Walney, primarily to give the Barrow folk access to Biggar Bank, yet later during 1904 he openly declared his 'disbelief' in the requirement for such..
When the 'Bill' for Walney Bridge was presented to parliament it was still heavily opposed by the Furness Railway Company, inferring that the opening span of 100ft wasn't acceptable at all and therefore insisting that nothing less than 120ft could be accommodated. Although winning their case for a wider span at an extra cost of £12,000, compensation for loss of 'ferry service' revenue and larger dolphins (The timber structures between the opening spans, shipping lane) the construction was approved, the contract was awarded. Sir William Arrol & Co being named as the contract company of choice for it's construction.
Construction of the bridge begins.
Walney Bridge first opened officially for use on the 30th July 1908 by the then Barrow-in-Furness Mayor, Mrs. T.F. Taylor at a total cost of £175,000 and a two and a half year build period. The bridge was to carry a toll for 27 years. When the bridge was released from charge and handed to the townspeople on the 4th April 1935 a ceremony was carried out by the Duchess of York, better known today as the late Queen Mother that was to see the bridge officially renamed, Jubilee Bridge.
Simply as a matter of interest I have been advised that during the war years of WWII the Jubilee Bridge spans where opened each evening as a precaution, in case of any intruders managing to gain access to Walney Island making their way to the Barrow mainland and it's associated works.
The pictures below show Jubilee Bridge as it is today. Walney-Island and it's 13000 (approx) residents are still served well by the Bridge although many polls and discussions have taken place over recent years addressing the issues of the requirement for a second bridge to aid peak time congestion. The paths seen in the picture on the right are one of the more 'recent' modifications (removing the opening spans timber structure and replacing it with steel) to the bridge, the original walkways across the bridge consisted of nothing more than wooden lats with 1" gaps between them, across the opening spans until the early 1980's. Other more recent repairs and modifications have seen barriers replace the old gates (see: Cows Tarn Lane), The large wooden Dolphins replaced by smaller ones during the 1980's and even the blue paint used on the bridge (It was silver / grey)
Two pictures above courtesy of Bill Clarke's South lakes website.
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