1938 A New Bridge?
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Article from Sussex County Magazine 1938
The Proposed New Bridge across the Adur
By GEOFFREY CLARKE

An engineering work of national importance is to be started in Sussex shortly, probably during the course of next year. This is the building of a new bridge across the broad estuary of the River Adur at Old Shoreham to supersede the old timber structure owned by the Southern Railway.

The beauty of the Adur Valley is well known to walkers and motorists alike, for the northern approach road to Shoreham and ,the coast follow it from the villages of Beeding and Bramber. From Mill Hill to the east of the valley, there is a panoramic view of road, river and lush meadowland in front, and the town of Shoreham to the left.

It is a stretch of country to be carefully preserved and guarded. Shoreham Urban District Council is watching it with a jealous eye, and has already asked for provisions to be inserted in its Town Planning Scheme, now in course of preparation by the West Sussex County Council, so that control can be exercised over "dumping" on land adjoining the Steyning road.

The new bridge, which is being designed by the West Sussex County Surveyor and Engineer, Mr. A. Floyd, and his staff, is to be about a third of a mile long, will have a thousand feet of actual bridgework, and the width will be sixty feet. Details of the design have not yet been made public, but it is stated that it will be a multiple span bridge in concrete and that the structure will be "on simple lines."

At one end will be Old Shoreham, that part of Shoreham which is so like a village in the completeness of its community, with its twelfth-century church; and at the other will be Lancing College with its famous chapel.

Firstly, the bridge will have to be functional; secondly, modern, and thirdly, in harmony with the scenery into which it will be built. In a work of such magnitude as this it is assumed that the Royal Fine Arts Commission will be consulted.

Probably some people take it for granted that as the bridge is to be a modern construction of concrete, it will therefore be hideous and the ruination of the Adur valley, but it is certain that a bridge of graceful design would be the chief feature of that valley and enhance its beauty.

National concern should be aroused in the scheme in the same way that national concern was aroused when the proposal to build a new Waterloo Bridge was mooted. The design of the new bridge across the Thames is in the hands of that great architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and we have no doubt that it will be as fine a one as the old one it supersedes, designed by Rennie. There is never, or, at any rate, should never be, any objection to a modern structure replacing an old one, provided the modern is as efficient and as pleasing to the eye as its predecessor. There is not the slightest reason why this should not be so in the case of the Adur structure.

Modern conditions of traffic demand a new bridge at Old Shoreham. The lower road between Brighton and Worthing is too heavily stressed with vehicles, and the County Council is planning to encourage transport to use the upper road by making it more usable. It was felt that the present timber bridge, preceded as it is by a difficult bend, a level crossing, and then a narrow bridge with a toll to pay, is the chief drawback to the upper road. Motorists naturally used the lower road in preference, crossing the toll-free Norfolk Bridge. Also, it seems a wise policy to have a reserve road, for the lower road is on the coast and might quite easily be made impassable during rough weather.

A new bridge, attractive to road-users, is thus a necessity. The bridge will clear first of all the Steyning road, then the Horsham railway line, and then the river. Traffic will have no bend to take, no chance of having to wait the passing of a train, and, most important of all, more than likely no toll to pay and therefore no time wasted when paying it.

The immediate point for the public seems to be this. A new bridge is going to be built here, and work may begin next year. Now is the time to take an interest in the proposal, to investigate it thoroughly before

it is too late and has developed beyond the proposal stage. Public opinion is the most powerful force in the world, and the attention of all those concerned with the preservation of the countryside, and, in particular, with the beauty of Sussex, should be focused on this bridge proposal. It is one of the most important that the county has known.

To call for the interest of the public to this is, in no way intended as a reflection on the competence of the West Sussex officials. Their skill and ability have been tested times without number. The fact that the new Waterloo Bridge was being designed by the world-famous Sir Giles Gilbert Scott did not silence public opinion. The desire is to direct public opinion towards the importance of a scheme which will affect beneficially or adversely a lovely valley, and for which, incidentally, the public will pay.

As soon as the right stage has been reached the design and appearance of the proposed bridge should be closely examined and the matter thoroughly ventilated.

In his authoritative Story of Shoreham, Mr Henry Cheal writes of the old bridge that an Act of Parliament was passed in 1781 for the building of the timber bridge. The Act authorised 5,000 to be raised in shares of 100 by way of annuity, the income arising from the tolls falling to the Duke of Norfolk on the death of the annuitants. The bridge was ten months in the building, and was considered at the time of its completion a marvel of engineering skill.... It is connected with the Lancing side of the road by a causeway built on faggots sunk into the morass, which formerly extended to the Sussex Pad.

Mr Cheal refers to the old bridge as "one of the most picturesque features of the Adur Valley." It was bought by the Railway Company when the line was extended to Horsham.

The bridge planned in the article was not built  A year later -1939 - the council had more important matters in mind, the traffic on the busy East - West road having to wait until the late 1960's for the 'New' bridge to be started, opened in 1970 


September 2001


courtesy R Hamblett


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