The Humber estuary is one of the widest in Britain; it’s also one of the least attractive – banked on both sides by an industrial skyline with nothing but mud and sand banks in between. I think maybe the bridge was built just to give visitors something else to gaze at! It may be ugly, but we still love it.
It’s a powerful river, one which has a history of trapping the unwary who try to navigate its tides and shallows without the guidance of the Humber pilots.
The crossing used to be made by paddle steamer, the ferries plying their trade between the Corporation Pier at Hull, and New Holland on the south bank in Lincolnshire. I remember a few occasions riding either the Tattershall Castle or the Lincoln Castle for family outings across to Cleethorpes. The Tattershall Castle is now moored on the Thames and used as a bar.
Even further back in history – the mighty Humber was once upon a time walked across at low tide by Roman legions. Even though Hull is a very old settlement, it was never important enough in those days for the legionnaires to bother dropping in; they just marched straight past, braving treacherous shifting sands on their way from Lindum (Lincoln) to Petuaria (Brough), and then to Eboracum (York); along the road known as Ermine Way (now the A15).
Nowadays, we find it more convenient to use a bridge.
When it was first built, this magnificent example of engineering was the world’s longest single span suspension bridge (I’m sure there’s a tongue twister in there somewhere). Although it runs from Barton on the south bank, to Hessle on the north, effectively missing Hull by several miles, the city still lays claim to it.
If you’re coming into the city from the south or west (A15, A63) then you can’t really miss it (unless you’re asleep), but it’s a sight worth waking up for, especially at night or when the clouds go away for long enough to show a sunset.
Money saving tip – to save paying the bridge toll, walk across and pick up a hire car at the other side!
The bridge is:-
- 155 metres high
- Spans 1,410 metres
- Covers 2,220 metres in total
- Has 71,000 kilometres of cable
- Opened in 1981 after 9 years of construction.