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Looking back: ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in Shoreham was a regular in the headlines
7:10pm Tuesday 16th July 2013 in News
The Norfolk Bridge, which is still part of the main trunk road through the town, has found itself in the pages of The Argus time and again, but not always for the right reasons.
In March 1967, a story about the the Norfolk Bridge – nicknamed the Bottleneck Bridge – and the Toll Bridge carried the headline The Bridges of Sighs. It read: “No wonder so many people from the plebeian to planner call the twin horrors the bridge of sighs.”
Later that year, more than a dozen buses were marooned when timber roof sections toppled from a British Road Services lorry onto a van on the bridge.
After an hour’s wait and a milelong traffic jam spanning both east and west, a heavy crane waded through the traffic to clear the bridge.
A freelance photographer, Arthur Stubbs, witnessed the event and said: “Within minutes of the accident, traffic built up rapidly.
“Some drivers were able to turn back, but hundreds were stuck for more than two hours before traffic was back to normal.”
Millions of pounds has been spent on the bridge over the years, including a £27,000 anti-pigeon paint job in the summer of 1972.
Norfolk Bridge in 1967
The bridge had to be closed in order for screens to be put in place stopping pigeons from nesting there after a West Sussex County Council official at Chichester said: “The pigeons have been a nuisance on the bridge for years.”
In May 1979, the bridge needed another paint job, this time costing the council £160,000, but this would be paltry compared to the expenditure in the 1980s.
In November 1982, a £1.8m reconstruction on the bridge took place.
Just three years later a £2.5m facelift was officially reopened by the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk.
In the late 1970s, the Norfolk Bridge’s technology was ramped up as CCTV was installed to keep an eye on traffic.
The roundabout beside the bridge in 1987
It was to keep a beady eye on traffic queues building up in the High Street in an attempt to alleviate congestion.
It did not work out, prompting a furious pub licensee to contact The Argus to air his views on the traffic problem.
Les Allen from the High Street Bridge Hotel said: “It is ridiculous, I don’t know what to do.
“We have poured a lot of money into the pub since we moved here three months ago and now it has all been wasted.
“If it goes on as bad as this we may have to close down.”
Work dismantling bridge in 1986
More quirkily, another pub boss complained that the sound of the wind whistling through the newly refurbished structure was driving customers away.
Rick Stephenson, landlord at The Bridge Hotel, said in 1989: “This has been going on for two years now – since the bridge was built – and it really isn’t funny. Nothing can drownthis noise out. It drives everyone mad. The whole of Shoreham can hear it up to two miles away.”
Neighbour Michael Rabjohns said: “When there is a high wind it is pretty unbearable. It is like the sound a TV makes at night but much, much louder.”
ON THIS DAY
574: John III ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1923: The Hollywood Sign is officially dedicated in the hills above Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It originally read “Hollywoodland” but the four last letters were dropped after renovation in 1949.
1979: Craig Bellamy, controversial Wales and Cardiff City footballer, is born.
2011: Mumbai is rocked by three bomb blasts during the evening rush hour, killing 26 and injuring 130.
2012: Financially troubled Scottish football club, Rangers, is voted into the third division.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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