Bideford’s New Torridge Bridge was opened to the public on May 20th 1987 – 25 years ago. This photograph was taken on Sunday 17th May 1987; it was an open day for members of the public to walk across the bridge for the first time, and an opportunity to explore the interior service tunnel as well.
Crowds crossed the bridge led by the Bideford Town Band, and there was even an elephant involved.
The helicopter and the Appledore inshore lifeboat were demonstrating a rescue and I positioned myself in the centre of the bridge to get some shots of this. I had been told that after this demonstration there was a possibility the pilot might attempt an under-fly, and as it flew towards me I was still expecting it to lift. There was only time for the one shot and luckily the camera got the exposure right.
You could say, 25% anticipation, 75% luck.
THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE TORRIDGE BRIDGE.
Personal memories of the event.
Wednesday the 20th of May, 1987 was a warm, bright and sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing as we ushered children out of St Mary’s Church of England school in Chanters Road. My wife and I, along with other volunteer parents, were taking the pupils, including our youngest son Kevin, to witness the official opening of the Torridge Bridge.
We walked along Chanters Road and joined Kingsley Road before climbing up Heywood Road. We then turned right onto the pristine tarmac of the newly constructed link road.
As we made our way towards the bridge, we could see that a large crowd had already assembled. Flags were flying on both sides of the west end of the bridge, and Appledore Band was already in-situ. Our eldest son, Mark, was in the band, which was conducted by the bandmaster, Geoff Abbot.
On arrival at the location, all the children were instructed to sit on the tarmac. I can’t remember if they had anything to sit on but one of my photographs would suggest not.
The ceremony was scheduled, I think, for 11am and after the children had settled, I took the opportunity to take a few photographs. As the hour approached, I noted that there were two television crews and strangely only one stills photographer and I could see an opportunity to capture the event close-up.
I made my way around the perimeter, expecting to be stopped at any moment but no one intervened and I found myself standing between the two TV crews and was able to capture the moment the ribbon was cut.
The opening ceremony was performed by the High Sheriff of Devon, records show this to be John Rosewarne Trehair esq, from Ivybridge, and the blessing conducted by, if my memory serves me correctly, The Bishop of Crediton, the Right Rev Peter Coleman.
After the ribbon was cut, the official cars drove across to the east side, flanked by two police outriders and then returned to signify that the bridge was now officially open. The bridge was cleared for normal traffic use about an hour later.
These are my memories, although I am sure others will recall the event slightly differently.
Do you have any memories of that day? Send them to editor@Bidefordbuzz.org.uk or c/o TTVS, 14, Bridgeland St, Bideford, EX39 2QE.