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Weymouth Town Bridge

The Town Bridge Turns 90!

On Saturday 4th July 2020, the Weymouth Town Bridge will turn 90 years old!  As part of the celebrations to commemorate the Town Bridge’s 90th year, we will be holding a series of online events which we are asking you to be a part of.

CHILDREN'S ART COMPETITION

We recently invited local children to take part in an online art competition to wish the Town Bridge a Happy 90th Birthday!  We received over 70 entries which included birthday cards, paintings, drawings, sculptures and computer generated art!  Our judge, Councillor Kate Wheller, Chairperson of the Harbours Committee, said "there were some stunning graphic depictions, some funny ones, I love the whale swimming by!  Some great photography.  Our thanks to all the children who took part, we loved looking at them all and wish everyone could be a winner."

After much consideration, Kate has announced the winner as Sienna Stokes, age 10.  She described the winning entry as "a lovely, exuberant picture."  Congratulations to Sienna!



The winning entry by Sienna Stokes, age 10.

photo gallery

Over the years, the Weymouth Town Bridge has been the stimulus for many an artist's shot.  Visit our online gallery to view some of the beautiful images that we have received from admirers of the bridge!

If you have an image, whether it be a photograph, painting, drawing or print which you would like to see published in our gallery, please send to weymouthharbournews@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk.

Any photographs or images submitted will be published in our Facebook galleries and in doing so will become accessible to the public.  Furthermore, these images may be used by Weymouth Harbour for marketing/publicity purposes in the future.

VIDEO TOUR OF the bridge houSE

Check out our new film Inside Weymouth Town Bridge which gives a glimpse into the workings behind this fantastic structure!


A Little Bit of History...

Since 1597, this is the sixth bridge built uniting the towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, after its predecessor only allowed small vessels to pass through and the opening machinery was thought to be too slow.

Constructed by men recruited from the unemployed of Weymouth and surrounding areas, consulting engineer Mr H W FitzSimons of Westminster and contractors Messrs Bolton and Lakin, Birmingham and Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company, Darlington, built the £90,000 bridge which was then first opened on 4th July 1930. The historic event was marked with a grand opening ceremony performed by HRH Duke of York who later became King George VI, and the first passage through the bridge was made by the paddle steamer EMPRESS, owned by Cosens. 

Weymouth Town Bridge Opening 1930

Initially designed to be lifted occasionally to allow larger vessels into the inner harbour for repairs, it is now scheduled to lift every two hours, 363 days of the year, bar Christmas Day and New Years Day. The record for the most number of vessels transiting the bridge was in 2005/06 with a staggering 11528!

How it Works

A twin leaf bascule type bridge, each leaf weighs over 200 tonnes and is ‘moved’ by a small DC motor and gear train on each bascule, with each having a counter balance ballast weight. This is also used to control the wedges, which ‘lock’ the leaves in place when the bridge is raised or lowered.

To open the leaf is rolled along the fixed gear and using the counter balance weight the leaf then starts to tilt.  Breaks are then applied when it is fully open. In the raised position the entire ballast counter weight fills the Bascule pit and excess rain water runs directly into the harbour.

Formerly it was raised by hand winches, one on either side of the mechanism, on both the north and south leaf. These are also believed to have manually operated the ‘wedges’ too. Today’s operating system on lifting the Town Bridge is done in a sequence whereby buttons are pressed on a lower control panel, with each button having a specific function from operating the waterway traffic signals to raising the leaves and barriers, and if a step is missed the bridge will not operate.

The mechanics of the bridge are largely original, electrical components have been updated and a great deal of work has been carried out in recent years to replace and upgrade obsolete parts.

Whilst the addition of a lighting system illuminating the bridge at night, showcases the magnificence of this 90 year old wonderful piece of engineering.  

Weymouth Town Bridge at Night