Thursday, 8 September 2016

8th September 2016 - Happy Birthday Severn Bridge

Thought for the day :"If you want to be a smart ass - you have to be smart - otherwise you are just an ass"

So, as reported yesterday, the Severn Bridge reaches 50 years old today. I am ashamed to say that as parents we thought it useful in the early years of our daughters to always refer to the Severn Bridge as the "A" Bridge as it looked like a large capital letter "A" and was a useful teaching took when they were young.
Like most parents we never really thought it through, and a later essay "what did you do at the weekend" included the words "We drove over the "A" Bridge and went to..."  Which was duly queried by the teacher. By all accounts a very frustrated child explained carefully all about the bridge and showed exasperation at the ignorance of said teacher.... Finally establishing that it was the Severn Bridge - said child refused to agree and came home to explain how stupid some teachers were!

We then had to explain that the bridge was only the "A" Bridge to us...   oh dear!  But then they built the "H" bridge and that was okay!!!

So- Happy Birthday to the "A" Bridge!!!

Mr Parsons and colleagues at renowned bridge engineers Freeman Fox and Partners pioneered a light weight and aerodynamic road deck. With its internal stiffening, their design did away with the need for criss-crossed supporting trusses under the road - like on the first Forth Road Bridge and the traditional American suspension bridges - and in the process transformed long span bridge design.
Five decades on, the elegant box girder design of the Severn Bridge is industry standard worldwide - and the Bosphorus, Humber and Yangtze Bridges (amongst many others) are all design descendants of ‘our’ bridge.
“The Severn Bridge is remarkable,” said John Evans, “I don’t say was, it is remarkable still.”
Typical of the era though, little thought was given to how this revolutionary structure would be maintained.

“So, in many ways, the inspectors, engineers and maintenance teams of today have to be just as ingenious as the original designers to reach every nook and rivet in order to keep the bridge up to scratch.”

The bridge, which was opened by the Queen 50 years ago today (8th September), is world famous and iconic in its design.
A new leaflet has been produced by Monmouth Council.
The leaflet for residents and visitors to the town explains why the bridge is so special for the world as well as to Chepstow. The Severn Bridge was the first major bridge to have a thin aerodynamic road deck, and since being built, 90 per cent of the world’s longest suspension bridges have followed this example. The pioneering aerodynamic deck was first assembled at Chepstow and floated down the Wye to the bridge site.
After 50 years the Severn Bridge continues be an elegant and iconic structure, which impresses those who use it or those who simply gaze at the beauty of this mile long landmark.
Town Mayor, Councillor Paul Pavia, said: “The Severn Bridge is a world famous bridge and can be seen from all parts of Chepstow where its pioneering road deck was assembled. We celebrate 50 years of this iconic, graceful and vital link between Wales and England across the Severn and the Wye.”
The leaflet was written and researched by John Burrows who also authored the information leaflet on Chepstow Bridge which was 200 years old this year. It contains notes from the official brochure issued by the Government and Gloucestershire County Council at the opening of the Severn Bridge in 1966.
The Institution of Civil Engineers for South West England are organising a procession of old cars across the bridge on the 8th September 2016 and a reception for engineers involved in the bridge at the Old Ferry Inn.

So some questions and answers..
Q: What is the Welsh for the Severn Bridge?
 A:  Pont is bridge and Hafren is Severn.

Q: when were Credit and Debit Cards first accepted?
 A: The Highways Agency announced facilities for card payment in time for the 2010 Ryder Cup, which was held at the Celtic Manor in Newport.

Q: How is the bridge connected to the 1977 film Star Wars?
 A: The sound of Lasers was made by Striking one of the suspension wires...Millions of film-lovers have unwittingly heard the eerie, metallic twang made by plucking the bridge's harp-like suspension wires.

Q: Why was Enoch Williams disgruntled about the bridge?
 A: The new crossing spelled the end of a lucrative business for Mr Williams, who’d set up a ferry service on the first day of the General Strike in 1926.

Q:What line completes the Harri Webb verse:
           Two lands at last connected
           Across the waters wide,
           And all the tolls collected...
 A: "Are on the English Side" - Harri Webb was a politician as well as a poet. He began his career with the Republicans, a small group who burned Union Jacks in the towns of South Wales. After the movement's demise in 1959 he joined the Labour Party and finally, Plaid Cymru.

Q: How much is the toll for walkers over the bridge?
 A:  The bridge has a free pedestrian and cycle route. Experts recommend choosing a calm day to walk over, and since there are no toilets, make sure you go before you set off.

Q: Which fictional television romance was between lovebirds on either side of the Severn Bridge?
 A: It’s Gavin and Stacey – an Essex boy and a Barry girl. Gavin complains he has to use cash every time he crosses the bridge. His mother Pam protests: "Don't they take card? Everyone takes card!"

Q: The towers on the bridge are 135.6m (445 ft) high. That’s the equivalent of how many double-decker buses?
 A: The correct answer is 31, assuming the coaches are the standard 4.38m (14ft 4in) height.

Q: Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Amy Wadge performed on top of the Severn Bridge - but why?
 A: It was part of BBC Music Day - Radio Wales editor Steve Austins said: "BBC Music Day is all about collaboration and working together and the bridge symbolises that spirit”. (I have sung ont he same stage as Amy - just saying)

Q: When the bridge first opened in 1966 the crossing fee was half a crown (2s 6d). If you had spent your money on a pint of beer instead, how much change would you have left?
 A: It’s a tanner (6d). A pint of beer in 1966 would have set you back an average of 2s, which amounts to about £1:75 today. In late 2015, the average price of a pint was £3:46 – and the toll was £6:50.

I'll drink to that...


and in the best traditions of all car journeys...

and in late news
apparently 8th September 1966 was also when Star Trek first aired in the US

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