LAST week, I chronicled the story of the first two bridges to span the Thames between Walton and Shepperton but they were followed by three further structures, while a sixth is still on the drawing board.
Following the collapse of the second bridge, an iron lattice girder bridge on brick and stone piers was opened in 1864. That bridge also boasted an arched causeway extension across the flood plain on the Surrey bank that still stands.
This bridge was damaged by a wartime bomb in 1940 but continued to handle traffic until it was replaced by a Callender-Hamilton ‘temporary’ bridge that was build alongside the third bridge in 1953.
This continued to cope with pedestrian and cycle traffic until it was demolished in 1985.
The Callender-Hamilton bridge was only supposed to last for a few years – so the authorities have certainly had their money’s worth out of it – but deterioration of the supporting legs meant it ceased to be used for motorised traffic in 1999. It is still in use for pedestrians.
The current bridge – yet another temporary structure – was built alongside the fourth crossing and opened in 1999 while discussions about a permanent new bridge dragged on.
Hopefully, after many debates and inquiries, the new bridge has now been agreed. The structure, expected to cost between £28-30m, should be open by about 2012.
SEVERAL readers have contacted me in response to the column on kingfishers, which is encouraging. Kathleen Potter from Ashford called to say she’d seen one down by Rivermead Island in Sunbury.
“We were walking the dog at about 3pm on Monday three weeks ago when I saw this flash of blue and the kingfisher was swooping over the surface of the water,” she said. “It was absolutely beautiful.”
Kathleen, 73, tells me it was the first kingfisher she had seen since the mid-1980s in Wales.
Hot on her heels was brickie John Wells from Addlestone, who reported seeing a pair of kingfishers while he was working at Hamm Court in Weybridge close to where the River Bourne meets the Thames. He said: “One perched on the wall near me – it was one of those moments you wished you had a camera with you.”
I then received an email from Steve Wray who works in Chertsey.
He reported a kingfisher perched on the gatepost outside his office overlooking the Bourne for several minutes just before Christmas. He’s also seen one of the birds in flight over the river.
Two readers have seen the birds by the River Ash where it flows beside the Charlton Lane golf course. Bill Toms from Halliford has seen kingfishers regularly when he fishes that stretch of the river while Sharon Johnson from Watersplash Meadow saw one as she was walking her dog in the same area.
My Herald & News colleague, Barry Dix, had a great view of one at the Abbey River in Chertsey last week.
It’s great to know these beautiful birds are alive and well in our area.