The Humber Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the Humber Estuary five miles west of the city of Hull in northeast England. When it was opened in 1981 its central span, at 1,410 metres (4,626 feet) was the world’s longest, although it has since lost that accolade to ten other bridges, six of them being in China.
The engineers were Freeman, Fox and Partners, and the work took eight years to complete.
The structure contains 470,000 tons of concrete, and the cables that support the roadway consist of 70,700 kms (44,000 miles) of wire, which is enough to go round the world one and a half times.
The towers are 152 metres (533 feet) high and the road deck is 30 metres (100 feet) above the water at high tide.
There is no Humber River as such, because the estuary carries the waters of two major rivers to the sea. These are the Ouse and the Trent, which between them drain nearly 10,000 square miles of Northern England and the East Midlands. The estuary, which is already a mile wide upstream of the Bridge, is more than seven miles across before it reaches the sea more than 20 miles to the east.
The bridge solved a problem that had troubled travelers for hundreds of years. The Romans built a major road north from Lincoln (Ermine Street) which was part of the route from London to York. However, the crossing of the Humber had to be by ferry. There is evidence that rafts were used in prehistoric times.
More recently, a paddle steamer service connected Hull to New Holland, a few miles east of the new bridge.
The only bridging point prior to the opening of the Humber Bridge was at Goole, 29 miles west of Hull. This became a congested “pinch point”, especially when heavy goods vehicles tried to get through the town. Things were eased when the motorway network bypassed Goole, but the Humber Bridge shortened the route between East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and is now heavily used.