Reading Bridge Celebrates Centenary
- Reading Bridge first opened exactly 100 years ago on 3 October 1923
- Occasion marked with plaque unveiling and classic cars crossing bridge
HISTORIC celebrations took place today as iconic local landmark Reading Bridge celebrated its centenary.
Exactly 100 years to the day since chairman of the Borough Extension Committee, John Wessley Martin, originally opened the bridge, a plaque to mark the occasion was unveiled by Mayor of Reading, Cllr Tony Page, other dignitaries and members of CADRA, the Caversham and District Residents’ Association.
To mark the birthday celebrations, three vintage cars, supplied by the Berkshire Motor Show, cruised across the bridge carrying Councillors and members of CADRA. These were a Rolls Royce 20/25 convertible from 1934, an Armstrong Siddeley Sports Foursome from 1935 and an Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire 234 from 1958.
Opened on 3 October 1923, to considerably less traffic than it carries today, Reading Bridge has been a key strategic route in and out of the town ever since, particularly with urban growth north of the River Thames and around the Caversham area.
From construction until 1928, Reading Bridge boasted the longest single span in the UK.
The first vehicle to cross from Caversham into Reading back in 1923 was a van from the Reading and Caversham Laundry Co. Ltd, a company which is still successfully trading today.
John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Climate Strategy and Transport, said:
“Reading Bridge remains an iconic and historic structure that has served the town fantastically well over the last 100 years.
“It is a key part of our infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists from Reading and beyond and it was wonderful to see the historic cars and bicycles travelling over it this morning on its centenary, as both a nod to its incredible history and to illustrate just how much times have changes since it was first opened.
“I’m certain that Reading’s historic bridge will remain in situ for the next hundred years too, even if not many of us will be around to see it!!
Having held firm for 90 years despite the ever-increasing volumes of traffic, the bridge needed essential strengthening work in 2013 to help future proof it and allow it to cope with the increasing rigours of more and heavier vehicles.
A £3m grant that year allowed Reading Borough Council to undertake the essential work, using an innovative lightweight carbon fibre strengthening solution at the time. This has helped it ever since to cope with inevitable erosion from the River Thames and around 27,000 daily vehicle crossings.
A pdf leaflet on the history of Reading Bridge can be downloaded from the CADRA website here: www.cadra.org.uk/readingbridge100