return loads with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.">One of the biggest perks of a job in the haulage industry is the chance to get out on the open road with the wind in your hair - even if it is only the gust of your heater warming up the cab. Most drivers have their own personal favourite route or feature that they continue to admire, no matter how many times they traverse the region delivering goods and picking up return loads. One that pops up quite often in conversation is the distinctive Humber Bridge, near Kingston-Upon-Hull. Nodding, aren’t you… |
The Humble Humber
For such a magnificent structure, though, it’s surprising just how overlooked it is, and many people who’ve never been to Hull haven’t even heard of it. For some lorry drivers, however, driving over the bridge with a full truck and coming back with return loads may evoke some memories of the not-too-distant past, when England’s last great estuary was finally bridged.
The bridge over the Humber was completed in 1981, linking the counties of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, but its construction was not without contention. The government created the new county of ‘Humberside’, a concept not popular with many locals despite the economic opportunities it would afford. (Humberside was officially abolished in 1996 after many years of opposition and lobbying.)
A Thing of Beauty
Love or hate its history, few could deny the elegant good looks of this impressive suspension bridge, which was modelled on the Golden Gate, in San Francisco. The engineers chosen for the job (Freeman, Fox and Partners) were the same ones responsible for the Severn and Forth Road Bridges, but it’s due to the consulting architect, R.E Slater, that the structure attained heritage listing at the highest level. While naturally the engineers ensured the safety and functionality of the structure, it was Slater who worked on the fine aesthetic details that make it so visually appealing.
At the time of its construction, its impressive vital statistics made it the longest suspended single span in the world. While today that record has been trumped, it’s still one of the top ten.
• Main span: 1440m • Tower heights: 155.5m • Can withstand winds up to 105mph on deck, 155mph on towers • Height over river: 30m
Poetry in Motion
In a testament to its beauty, acclaimed British poet Philip Larkin penned a poem called “Bridge for the Living”. It speaks about the capabilities of such constructions to open up opportunities and effect great cultural and economic communion between areas previously unable to come together. Even though the piece was commissioned rather than inspired by the muse, Larkin himself was a long time resident of Hull, so the issue was very close to his heart.
In 2017, during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture, this incredible structure was recognised for its huge cultural importance and it formed the centrepiece of an ambitious art installation. In conjunction with Opera North, the words of Larkin’s poem were piped through headphones and visitors walked across the span as they listened to the soundtrack of its history.
Opportunities and Growth
Today, the Humber is indeed a “bridge for the living”, and it’s undeniably opened up a vital route between Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. For those of us in the freight industry who cross the river to deliver our goods or pick up return loads, it’s certainly created a wealth of opportunities.
So next time you make the crossing, while you might not quite be able to write a poem, you can at the least tip your hat to a manmade marvel that deserves a great deal of respect.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work and return loads with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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