What would Bristol be without its bridges? Our city’s name, originally Brycgstow, literally means ‘the place at the bridge’. While Clifton Suspension Bridge is an iconic landmark, it is Bristol’s other 44 walkable bridges that make the city tick. Few more important than Gaol Ferry Bridge.
Built back in 1935, the bridge connects the area of Southville to Wapping Wharf – and plays a major role in the high levels of foot traffic in the area. Since last year, the bridge has been closed under some much-needed repairs. And while it was only expected to last six to nine months, it has dragged on and on thanks to some unexpected “paper-thin steelwork”.
Bristolians have been forced to completely circumvent the Wapping Wharf area for over a year. Often adding as much as 25 minutes to a trip from one side of the river to the other. Many of the local businesses have struggled too, with not all surviving. While the works on the bridge ended up costing 50% more than planned (£1.5 million in total). So it’s been a costly closure in more ways than one.
But at last, this nightmare is soon to be over. “The bridge closure has had a big impact on our community of independent retailers, so we’re over the moon that this key route will be back open soon,” said Wapping Wharf on Instagram. “Thank you to everyone who’s continued to make the journey and support us during this time – you’re all wonderful!”
To celebrate, a huge party will be thrown in Wapping Wharf, with many of the local independent bars and restaurants getting involved. The official reopening of the bridge will happen at 5 p.m. on Friday, September 8. The party get started immediately after, with many retailers open all evening, as well as music and entertainment kicking off at 6.45 pm.
This doesn’t look like the end of the bridge closures, unfortunately. Bristol City Council has indicated that further bridges across Bristol are in desperate need of attention. Five more have so far been lined up, including Sparke Evans Park Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge, Banana Bridge, Bedminster Bridge and Bath Bridge. But you might have a slim chance of completing The Bristol Bridges Walk Challenge when it reopens, so act quickly!