Work on the bridge restarted today with the continuation of the civil’s.
Here a local septuagenarian, Martin, poses with the concrete smasher. Martin of course doesn’t drive the machine he just likes posing. I hear his ASBO is nearly spent so he can get back to a normal life, well as normal as can be at seventy. He has promised to stop terrorising the old dears.The trench cut by the workers today will eventually contain a 4 inch pipe with the electric cables in that will power the hydro-electrickery.
Although the work will be finished before Easter and the bridge ‘will be functional’ Easter boaters will have to operate the bridge the proper way using the chain. It was decided not to risk the possibility of a breakdown causing hold-ups at such a busy time.
There is still some uncertainty as to how the bridge will work once it is switched on. The Thrupp lift bridge (proper name Aubrery’s Lift Bridge1) is a ‘change over’ bridge.
These mechanisations usually require the key to be locked into the consul for the whole of the operation of the bridge. Problem being that you will be on the wrong side of the bridge to retrieve the key once you have gone through. Ok if you have crew but not OK if you are single handed. Given that this bridge is being put in ‘for the benefit of single hander's’ this is not a lot of good.
Why they simply couldn’t use two hydraulic hand pumps of a similar design to the one in the centre of Banbury I don’t know but we often get what we don’t want from BW. In fact no one I have spoken to knows any one who wants the bloody bridge mechanised in the first place except BW.
At a meeting last year with concerned users here at Thrupp, I have it on good authority that BW said the IWA were all in favour of the mechanisation. That ‘good authority’ called the IWA and asked why they thought it was a good idea to do this, to which the response was “No one has asked us”.
My question is if BW are prepared to tell us porky pies to get this bridge mechanised what other porkies are they telling us. How much of the limited funding is being wasted just because some suit thinks it is a good idea and doesn’t like to be challenged.
There have been two accidents recorded in the last couple of years. One involved a drunk boater who ‘didn’t bounce’ when jumping off the raised bridge and the other was a non-boater who one can only assume was assing about with the bridge. It is difficult to assertain how many other accidents, if any, have happened on lift bridges in the last 250 years, but based on the recent two accidents I cannot see any legal requirement to mechanise this bridge under Health & Safety Law. If there is a danger BW are to limit the danger “as far as is reasonably practicable”. £20,000 is not reasonable.
As a single hander I operated both of the local bridges, Shipton and Thrupp, at the weekend successfully and with out risk. The only hard part about operating the bridges is the positioning of the hold down ring which BW put in the wrong place as I pointed out in this post.
1 Ref Nicholson's WG1 2006 pg 142