The mayor's extreme ironing pressed perfectly the opening ribbon while the mayoress took care of the tea.

UPDATE: a video of the demolition and rebuild is on our YouTube channel; and it is embedded below.

After 3 months of work, the new bridge on Newbury Road over the railway line is to be officially open on Wednesday, 2 May 2012.

The road was shut at the end of January and the original bridge dating from the mid-1850s was demolished. The height under the new bridge is greater, to allow the A10 sized freight trains to fit through.


Barriers across the road were removed this afternoon, and a quickly arranged opening ceremony was hosted by our mayor, Cllr Barry Jackman and mayoress Sandra Jackman. Some passing locals, visitors, dogs and even bridge construction workers joined in on the occasion.

So quick were the arrangements made that the mayor had to complete the extreme ironing of the ribbon on-site before he cut it; while his wife took care of tea for the construction crew. Afterwards, champagne was popped open and enjoyed by all.

Following tea, there was a champagne celebration as the sweeper truck tidied up the road surface.

The workers have also made minor repairs to a second bridge, just to the north of the new one. Now filled in underneath, this bridge was for a track loop around to the now dismantled Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Railway.


Some people have expressed their love of the demolished 1850s bridge. They also noted that the new bridge does not have a dedicated bicycle path nor wide pavements for people going into the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The parapets are also higher, which makes it much more difficult to look over them to see and photograph the occasional passing steam train.

The ribbon is cut by the Mayor, Cllr Barry Jackman with his wife Sandra assisting.

The B&DBC conservation officer stated during the planning phase that ‘the level of significance given to the [original] individual bridge and the group could be somewhat greater than what the supporting justification [from Network Rail] attributes to them.’


It is not clear why the Whitchurch bridge was not saved like other bridges along the line by lowering the tracks instead. UPDATE: it may have been because it would mean the nearby station platforms and associated buildings would have to have been lowered too.

The Conservation Officer stated in his report that ‘the level of demolition and modification has been properly considered to be the minimum to achieve the objectives of the operational needs for the railway, overcomes the loss of the character and appearance of the existing overbridge in this instance.’

Whilst others claim to be the first person on foot, and on bicycle to cross the bridge, the mayor is the first official motor vehicle to have the honour.

The officer continued, ‘as such, it is considered that the proposed development would not harm a feature of local historical or architectural interest or adversely affect its setting…’

A heritage statement about the old railway bridges is found in planning application BDB/73703 (the 10MB pdf file is HERE). Work was to take place earlier but dormice were found – see our story on that HERE. The new bridge went up quickly – see HERE. Our stories about the bridge closure are HERE, HERE and HERE. News about the Priory Lane, Freefolk Priors bridge is HERE. No dog poo was left on the bridge. A video interview of the mayor at the opening is on YouTube HERE, and below.

The green light was given to demolish the 1850s bridge starting in February 2012.

The new bridge is set to open May 2, 2012. Whitchurch train station is in the background.

Comments (5)

  • David hurst

    The lads deserve a bonus for finishing the bridge so early, perfect timing Well done

  • The Mayor and Mayoress

    This is an important day for Whitchurch folk who have had major disruption of journeys into and out of town to the North for three months. Let’s look on the bright side as it has opened nearly a month early – well done to all those concerned.
    We had not been informed of an opening ceremony and felt dissapointed for Whitchurch with the upheaval it has endured, so Sandra and I were more than happy to be a part of this celebration.

    Barry and Sandra

  • Mike Stead

    …although us residents of Newbury St have been loving the lack of HGV’s. Oh well, nothing lasts forever. Bring on the 20MPH limit now we say!

  • Liz

    So quiet a re-opening! I regularly read Andover, Newbury & BBC news websites, but the first clue I had about this early finish was a complete lack of traffic on the unofficial diversion on Thursday morning… I think the residents of the houses on the triangle corner will be pleased to get their peace & quiet back, and I look forward to crossing the new bridge this afternoon!

  • Whitchurch Resident

    Who paid for the food & drinks at this thing? And why do we need a mayor, he doesnt really do anything for the town. I say save money and not have a mayor. Anytime I have a problem I have to email Sit George Young.

    Ed.note: the mayor personally paid for the ASDA bottle to the best of our knowledge; there was no food. The mayor, and indeed all the town councillors, as well as the people who help run this website, are all unpaid, and elected, volunteers.

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