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The construction of the 'Blue Bridge'

It was 57 years ago that the new pre-stressed concrete bridge was completed across the lake in St James’s Park. Demolishing of the old bridge and construction of the new one caused quite a few column inches to be published at the time.

The following articles have been taken from The Sphere, dated 9 February and 15 June 1957.

Building one of two dams for the new bridge in St James’s Park: a diving expert (on the left), helped by a workman in protective clothing, places sandbags in position for the construction of a dam as the first stage in demolishing the old bridge (in background).

Later, a second dam will be built on the other side of the bridge and the 200,000 gallons in between will be pumped out. A temporary bridge of tubular scaffolding will be erected to enable pedestrians to cross the lake while the new bridge of pre-stressed concrete is being constructed.

The new bridge was completed by a team of thirty workmen who worked throughout the night [6-7 June] pouring lorry-loads of ready-mixed concrete into the wooden framework.

The work had to be completed in one go to avoid seams forming in the concrete, and the men who were chosen for the job were given the previous day off to prepare themselves for the task. Throughout the hours of darkness they were aided by arc lights suspended from the tubular scaffolding.

The old footbridge was a familiar sight to the thousands of people who walked in the park and it had served its purpose for 100 years. Expensive repairs became necessary, but a bequest of £23,000 by an anonymous donor could not be used for that purpose and the bridge was demolished.

Plans were then prepared for a new bridge costing within that amount. According to the terms of the bequest, a start had to be made before the end of last year and the new bridge completed by the end of this year.

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