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Keith Scantlebury

Kitty Brewster Bridge

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April 15th 2011 marks the 50th aniversary of the opening of the Kitty Brewster Bridge. The only mention of this that I have seen was in the all our yesterdays column of the NPL which mentions the fact that it was opened by Dan Dawson on 15th April 1961. I can remember being taken as a child and watching the bridge being built [iwas only 5 when it was opened]. That bridge is taken for granted now, but, it must be one of the most important structures built in living memory in this area. Could anyone imagine todays traffic trying to cross the river Blyth using the Furnace bridge. I can still remember buses struggling up the Hairpin bank and the Furnace bank going to and coming from Blyth in the Winter months. The opening of the bridge would have been one of the factors which lead to the eventual closure of the Blyth ferry [although that was some years later]. Without the bridge the spine road would not have been built. I can remember an old pitman saying "Am still gannin the lang way roond, a divint trust them motorway roads nivor mind one that gans ower a bridge". [wonder what he would make of the M25 and the QE2 bridge or the M4 and the severn bridge] There are still some people even now , 50 years on, that refer to it as the "new bridge". The building of the Kitty Brewster bridge really opened up the transport network of south east Northumberland and with the spine road eventually going to Ashington and the need for another bridge over the Wansbeck the pressure was taken off Bedlington Station and Stakeford as it were. Mind you the way fuel prices are going, there will be a huge reduction in traffic using the spine road and in 50 years time the only thing to be seen on the spine road will be tumbleweed.

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Just found this on the journal site whilst browsing and thought this may have jogged a few memories.

MLB3F.jpg

In the early days of transport and at the Furnace Bank on the River Blyth, a bus would stop at the top of the bank and let its passengers off. They would then have to walk down and up the bank at the other side and get back on to complete their journey.

Taken from Journal site: http://bedlington.journallive.co.uk/2011/04/bus-tragedy-at-the-bedlington.html

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Malcolm should remember that , he me even have been on the bus. I can remember buses having to stop at the bottom after coming down the hairpin ( ie from Blyth) to let the brakes cool a little because of brake fade, ( when brake drums get so hot they expand away from the reach of the shoes) . The furnace also had a few red marks on it from the United buses.

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I may be wrong on this but I think I remember being told that the road bridge was actually started (or intended to start) pre-war, and then abandoned due to the war effort. So if the 1961 date is correct - which I'm sure it must be - then it was an extraordinarily long time in the making, and the history goes back a fair bit more than 50 years.

Construction would have been restarted in the Harold Macmillan, "You've never had it so good" era of post war, post rationing, post disastrous Labour government, prosperity. Even then the popular take was that we'd drawn the short straw once again, and were only getting a few long-overdue crumbs from the national table.

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Just found this on the journal site whilst browsing and thought this may have jogged a few memories.

MLB3F.jpg

In the early days of transport and at the Furnace Bank on the River Blyth, a bus would stop at the top of the bank and let its passengers off. They would then have to walk down and up the bank at the other side and get back on to complete their journey.

Taken from Journal site: http://bedlington.jo...bedlington.html

its from a story i did for them in the extra. "a life lost for a penny"

www.sixtownships.org.uk

more stories of interest.

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