LETTER: Old Toll Bridge

Your letters
Your letters

The air crash and the terrible loss of life at this year’s Shoreham Airshow was an epic tragedy for families and loved ones and the organisations involved.

My heartfelt condolences go out to them a hundredfold.

And now much talk is about a lasting memorial.

Whilst the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge has provided a temporary focus for thousands of people to join with the family in mourning their loss it cannot provide a lasting memorial by changing the name.

A proper permanent memorial for the pilot who died in a previous air show was erected on the airport.

After a period of time for reflection, there will need to be a decision on a final resting place and the erection of a permanent memorial which will record in words for posterity the tragedy and the names of those who died.

The Old Shoreham Toll Bridge is a Grade II listed building built across the River Adur tidal estuary in 1781 under an Act of Parliament and opened in 1782.

Sadly the media, including local radio but not the local press, failed to give the bridge its proper name or realised it is a Heritage site which was nearly lost.

From 2000 right up to February 2008 the entire length of both sides of the bridge were protected by high steel fences because the sides were rotten as indeed were some of the beams and struts underneath.

The cost of repair and restoration was so high that the County Council had sought permission from English Heritage to allow the bridge to go quietly into the waters.

It survived because a small group of wonderful people formed the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge Charitable Trust in 2004, led by Vera Tickler and I to raise the money.

Nearly 40 local organisations gave their support.

We ran car boot sales, organised concerts, an Evening with Tim Rice, Murder Mystery evenings, annual sponsored cycle rides, a ‘Friends’ subscription, Christmas Fayres, talks – you name it we tried it.

We obtained a grant of £192,000 from Heritage Lottery. It was hard grind.

Finally, thanks to enormous support by councillor Louise Goldsmith, now the county council’s leader, work began on the refurbishment in February 2008.

On October 23, 2008, HRH the Duke of York, KG, GCVO, unveiled a bronze plaque on the Old Shoreham Toll Bridge to mark its official re-opening.

Many people have suggested the Adur Memorial Recreation Ground.

In time I am sure that Adur District Council will want to consult the families.

But for now may I suggest that surely the time has come for the families to be allowed some peace and time to grieve in private, safe in the knowledge of the enormous public sympathy there is for their so sudden loss.

Liza McKinney

Old Fort Road

Shoreham

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