Engineers share memories of the Humber Bridge as it celebrates 40 years

The longest single span suspension bridge in the world when it opened in June 1981 has inspired generations of civil engineers.

Humber Bridge. Image credit: ICE
Humber Bridge. Image credit: ICE

Engineers from across Yorkshire have been sharing their memories of the Humber Bridge as it celebrates the 40th anniversary of its official opening.

Opened by the Queen on July 17, 1981, the bridge was open to all traffic from June 24.

The project had been talked about for over 60 years before construction began in 1973.

Former ICE Vice President, Adrian Coy, said: "I was fortunate on the 20th anniversary to meet some of the team who constructed the bridge. Wonderful stories of a tremendous achievement for British civil engineering."

'The reason I'm an engineer now'

"I was lucky enough to cross the bridge on day one," said Phil Watson, senior planner at Costain Group.

Matthew Gilbert, professor at the University of Sheffield, said: "Great day - got the day off school! Though had to hang around for ages for the Queen to roll past in her limousine to open the bridge... 

"More seriously, it's a fantastic structure and as a child it was really fascinating to witness it being constructed, pretty much on my doorstep - quite possibly the reason I'm an engineer now."

Julie Banks also remembered the bridge's opening: "I remember that being opened when I was 18, giving my age away now! Can’t believe it is 40 years old. My friend from work assailed down it for charity, which was fab to watch."

Adrian Whiteman, project manager at Pell Frischmann, said: "I ran the Humber Bridge half marathon in 2013 - combining a physical challenge with a good look/appreciation of an iconic structure.... well on the way back it was more like - are we nearly there yet! I thought the route would be flat... how wrong I was!"

Inspiring future engineers

Mick Hughes, managing director at MJ Hughes Ltd, said: "My dad Harry Hughes worked on this bridge and he gave me the inspiration to carry on his legacy, God bless him."

Neil Butterill, director of Magna Business Solutions Ltd, said: "As a young trainee civil engineer technician I passed under this bridge on the train from 1979-1981 three times a week as it was built to get to HCFE [Hartlepool College of Further Education].

"Happy memories of an iconic structure as I started my career in this fantastic industry. Still learning 42 years later! #everydaysaschoolday."

Khaleel Mohammad, quality manager at Gleneagles Project Services, described the bridge as "engineering at its best", while Meg Holmes, marketing and communications manager at the University of Sheffield, said she loves to drive over it: "One of my favourite bridges - I drive my kids mad by going over it at least twice when we're over there!"

Record-breaking bridge

The 7,280ft (2,220m) long Humber Bridge was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world when it opened in June 1981.

The Humber Bridge now joins east Yorkshire to north Lincolnshire and has become a local landmark that's visible from miles away.

The bridge was made a Grade 1 listed building in 2017 to mark Hull's year as UK City of Culture.

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