Posts Tagged Bridge

Widnes: revisited

The eagle-eyed and strong of memory among you may remember we’ve looked at a couple of Widnesian landmarks over the last few months. I have to confess those photos weren’t ones I took myself. I recently corrected that anomaly though (hurray!) during a visit to Widnes, and specifically the top of the Catalyst Museum.

First, Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, with Spike Island (scene of the (in)famous Stone Roses 1989 gig) in the foreground, and second, the Widnes-Runcorn brige, both viewed from the top of the museum:

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The Silver Jubilee Bridge..

..or the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge, or the Widnes-Runcorn Bridge, depending on your particular point of view. What’s not up for debate is that it crosses the River Mersey between Widnes and Runcorn and is, believe it or not, a Grade II listed building.

I had a quick glance at Wikipedia to check a couple of things before including them on here, but the following sentence stopped me in my tracks and made any other comment seem pointless:

“The bridge transformed Runcorn from an effective cul-de-sac into a town with through traffic”

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Pont de Normandie

This is the upstart younger brother of the Pont de Tancarville that I was talking about. It opened in 1995, and is over 2km long. This photo gives some sense of the rollercoaster-esque experience which is crossing this bridge (indeed there’s a smaller ‘pre-bridge bridge’ just out of shot which is itself quite something).

I spent a year in France just east of these two bridges (in a flat, that is. I wasn’t living rough). Despite Normandy’s outstanding natural beauty I wound up in a very small town, nothing too grim in itself, but situated right in the middle of the petro-chemical heartland downstream from Le Havre. (The town in question, Lillebonne, is shown here; the Pont de Normandie is the more westerly crossing over the Seine, marked as the N1029; the Pont de Tancarville is marked as the N182).

It really hit home when a fellow teacher was driving us both to a larger town one evening (I forget where now, but somewhere east, in the general direction of Rouen. This is the same teacher/route that got me into Mister Eddy). Not long after setting off, I looked out of my window, and, in the dark, saw a number of lights.

“C’est quelle ville là-bas?” (What town’s that over there?) I asked, hopeful that there was somewhere close by with a little more of that certain special, um, ‘je ne sais quoi’ than Lillebonne itself.

“Euh, non… Ce n’est pas une ville, c’est une usine pétro-chimique” came the reply: “That’s not a town, it’s a petro-chemical refinery”.

You know that line in That’s Entertainment, “opening the windows and breathing in petrol”? I started my day that way more than once. That said, as well as being home to air-borne petrol, Lillebonne also housed a certain second-hand bookshop, so it certainly wasn’t all bad.

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Pont de Tancarville

This is one of two bridges which cross the River Siene and join Haute Normandie and Basse Normandie.

This bridge, the 1,400 metre-long Pont de Tancarville, was opened in 1959 and reigned supreme until its upstart younger brother came along nearly 40 years later.

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The Humber Bridge

Taken from the south bank on a typically lovely Humberside day

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