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Do you remember the Downham west bridge saga?

PUBLISHED: 10:49 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:26 24 October 2019

The old Victorian iron bridge alonsgide the temporary wooden bridge. Picture: Archant.

The old Victorian iron bridge alonsgide the temporary wooden bridge. Picture: Archant.

A bridge that was seen as a vital link for trade and commuters took 27 years to replace.

Places -- D

Aerial picture of Downham Market Bridge


Dated -- 11 November 1964

Photograph -- c9099Places -- D Aerial picture of Downham Market Bridge Dated -- 11 November 1964 Photograph -- c9099

The people of Downham Market were told a wooden bridge built to replace an unsafe Victorian iron bridge would only be temporary, however it took 27 years before a £75,000 concrete structure was built to replace them both.

The Downham west bridge was seen as an important alternative route for traffic between the Midlands and Norfolk. It carried A1122 traffic across the Ouse to the town.

In 1927 the Victorian Downham west iron bridge was condemned and a wooden bridge was built alongside it to replace the 19th century structure that was deemed to be unsafe.

A limit of five tons on the weight of traffic using the wooden bridge was in place, with a small area railed off for pedestrians to use.

Newspaper article on the opening of the Downham bridge in 1964. Picture: Archant.Newspaper article on the opening of the Downham bridge in 1964. Picture: Archant.

The temporary bridge was in place for so long it also became unsafe to use by two lanes of traffic and was in need of repair in 1954. This led to the iron bridge being opened again, with both bridges being used for a single lane.

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Traders and shopkeepers were annoyed at the delay in building the new bridge, which they said was creating a decline in trade.

An article in the Eastern Daily Press on Saturday, February 24 1962 said: "The old temporary bridge on the main Downham Market-Wisbech road has been the source of controversy for many years.

"It is regarded by motorists as a 'black spot,' because of acute bends and the narrowness of the bridge."

During the use of both the old iron bridge and wooden bridge, children apparently had to get off the bus travelling over the structure to lighten the load and once the bus was across the children could get back on.

After 27 years of waiting, Downham Market got a new £75,000 concrete bridge on Wednesday, September 23, 1964, and the road to the temporary bridge was blocked off.

The bridge, which is still in use today, was opened by the former Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Sir Edmund Bacon.

After opening the bridge, Sir Edmund drove his black Humber car across the long awaited structure.

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