TODAY marks exactly half a century since the official opening of Newport’s iconic George Street Bridge – a landmark birthday shared by a resident brought up only a stone’s throw away.
Andrew Morgan turned 50 today, and on the day of his birth at the St Woolos Hospital on April 9, 1964, the bridge billed as the answer to all traffic congestion problems was opened by the then town mayor, Councillor Trevor Vaughan.
Mr Morgan, who moved back to Newport ten years ago after more than a decade working away, said: “They were cutting my umbilical cord a few hours before the opening ceremony. It’s quite strange really – for a while I lived about 300 yards away from the bridge on Linton Street.
“It’s quite nice to think that I might be the only one in Newport to have been born on that day the same year – I don’t know anyone else myself. It’s quite strange, but actually quite special as well. I’m quite pleased to be a part of something special to Newport.”
Archive articles from the Argus explained how the workers who built the bridge were each given vouchers for seven pints of beer for them to spend in nearby pubs which had been given special extensions on what the paper called a “historic day”.
The Argus also printed a special supplement to mark its opening, with the headline “Goodbye Bottleneck”.
George Street Bridge saw the realisation of a 17-year “dream” by the local authority, which had hoped to ease traffic jams in the area.
The opening of the bridge, which cost more than £2 million to build with financial help from the Ministry of Transport, was designed to ease traffic congestion in “a town which has gained the unenviable reputation of being one of the worst bottle-necks in South Wales”, the Argus wrote.
The severe weather during the winter of 1962-63 proved a setback and the bridge was not finished on time – at the end of 1963.
More recently, the bridge has been used as a filming location. Last September, residents and passers-by looked on in horror as what appeared to be a limousine was seen dangling over the bridge’s edge. It was later confirmed by Gwent Police that it was a stunt used as part of filming for BBC TV’s drama series Casualty.
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