VIDEO: Newton Abbot's Town Quay Bridge officially opened
By PGStrange | Saturday, March 09, 2013, 20:53
TOWN QUAY BRIDGE – which links Newton Abbot and Kingsteignton – has been officially opened.
Cutting the ribbon: Sustrans' South West Regional Director Adrian Roper (left) and Devon County Council Chairman Jerry Brook officially open the Town Quay Bridge, with the help of local residents
Every dog has its day: VIPs - and an unexpected visitor - pose for photos along with local residents on the new bridge
Town Quay Bridge - the new £1.1 million structure that spans the River Teign and links Newton Abbot and Kingsteignton for pedestrians and cyclists
In a brief ceremony, held in brilliant sunshine on Friday 8 March, the two communities were linked by the new £1.1 million pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Teign…
The stunning steel structure is part of the Teign Estuary Trail. The route, with Town Quay Bridge as its centrepiece, has cost around £3 million. The scheme has been funded by Devon County Council with a £500,000 contribution from Sustrans, as part of the charity's Connect 2 project to create new cycling and walking links across the UK, with funding from the Big Lottery.
As bridge opening goes, it was memorable affair, with a number of unexpected guests.
Apart from VIPs – including Devon County Council Chairman Jerry Brook and Sustrans' South West Regional Director Adrian Roper, who there to officially open the new bridge – there was the lone runner who suddenly dashed on to the structure less than two minutes after the green ribbon had been cut.
Clearly he had no idea of what he'd stumbled across, and after a quick "Excuse me!", we saw no more of him. Once he'd charged through, a number of dogs made their presence felt.
One of the canine fraternity decided to christen the new bridge by cocking its leg on the parapet, near to where Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, was standing.
"Urgh, that's disgusting!" declared the Cabinet Member, surveying the pale yellow stream that was heading for the ground, 30 feet below. "That wee could easily hit someone on the head!"
And as the VIP party posed for official photographs below the structure – with local residents gathered on the bridge high above them – another dog threatened to upstage proceedings further, by wandering in and out of shot, a yellow tennis ball clamped firmly in its jaw.
But despite these intrusions, the ceremony went pretty much according to plan.
Prior to the ribbon cutting, DCC Chairman Jerry Brook spoke to the assembled crowd. Describing the bridge as "a wonderful structure", he explained what it would mean for the local community.
"Newton Abbot and Kingsteignton have been brought together through the development of this bridge," he said. "Local people now have a scenic, traffic-free option for when travelling between the two communities. For anyone living in Kingsteington, it will now be much quicker and healthier to use a bike rather than a car to reach Brunel Industrial estate and Newton Abbot railway station.
"I think its value in the local area has already been demonstrated in that more than 1,300 cycle trips have been made over this bridge within the first week of its completion. Congratulations, at least, to the person who did the count…"
In closing, Councillor Brook thanked the landowners – Network Rail, Newton Abbot Racecourse, Teignbridge District Council, Newton Abbot Council and the Crown Estate – who had made the scheme possible.
"Connecting two communities"
Then it was the turn of Adrian Roper, South West Regional Director of Sustrans, the UK charity "that enables people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys that we make every day", to speak.
"The aim of Connect2 is to connect two places which were split off from each other for whatever reason," he explained. "In this case it's a river, a railway, a racecourse – to a degree – and also a very busy road. So what we see here is a typical example of connecting two communities really directly. This new bridge and the whole new route will make it easy and quicker for people to get between the two settlements. And that's exactly what Connect2 is about."
Adrian also highlighted the "Portrait Bench", on the Kingsteignton side of the bridge. The bench – a viewing point provided by Sustrans where people can relax for a while, – is a link to the 79 other schemes in the Connect2 project. It features three metal figures, all with Newton Abbot connections.
The figures depict Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who brought the South Devon Railway to Newton Abbot in 1846, Dr Ivy Williams, who was born in Newton Abbot and became England's first female barrister in 1921, and a clay cutter, representing the ball clay industry which has been a major local business for hundreds of years.
"The local community group decided which characters they'd like," Adrian explained, once the ribbon cutting and photos were over. "Then we took the pictures, they were drawn in relief and then they went off to some steel fabricators who use a steel that is meant to rust over time. I really like the rust effect of it, as it looks natural on them. Even in a matter of a few days, these have rusted up well!"
Adrian was clearly impressed with the new bridge. "It's really attractive," he said. "It's a good strong focal point and people will be interested from that perspective. If that makes them use the new route, then that's great."
Councillor Stuart Hughes was also delighted with the new structure. ""I think it's brilliant," he said. "I remember coming down here six months ago to do the first dig, the sod cutting. To see what has been achieved here is absolutely remarkable.
"It's fantastic because Devon prides itself in being the cycle destination, bringing people to this country from abroad and attracting cyclists from all over the country to come down to Devon and see what we have to offer. We have the Exe Estuary Trail, the Drake Trail, and now I'm pleased to see the Town Quay bridge is open. I look forward to seeing the rest of the route completed, taking it further along the Teign Estuary trail.
"Everybody's done a remarkable job," he said, as the opening ceremony came to a close. "It just goes to show what you can achieve when you work together with partners such as Sustrans and The Big Lottery to get that funding to produce schemes like this. Fantastic!"
More pictures of the opening: Newton Abbot's Town Quay Bridge opens
A public celebration of cycling and walking on the new route is being planned for Sunday 5 May. More details soon...