IT’S time to take a trip down memory lane to the beginnings of one of Weymouth’s best known structures.

Back on July 4, 1930 the town welcomed royalty when the Duke of York opened the £90,000 Town Bridge across Weymouth Harbour.

The news dominated that day’s Dorset Daily Echo, which described the event as ‘probably the most important in the history of the town in this century’.

The building of the Town Bridge was described as the biggest improvement carried out in Weymouth harbour in the last 20 years - prior to this the most important work was the extension of the stone pier.

As well as providing better facilities for foot and vehicular traffic, the new bridge, a double leaf rolling lift type, would also allow larger ships to pass to the upper part of the harbour (now Weymouth marina) and get to the berths there.

The article notes that at this time the improvement would capitalise on the increase in import and export trade with the Channel Islands.

The old bridge which was being replaced has done good service for many years, but it didn’t satisfy ‘modern requirements’. It was also slow to open to allow ships through.

The Echo reports: “The new bridge represents the latest type of its kind and in all the highest class of materials - and all of British production - were used. During the long period of time in which the work has been carried out, the weather conditions were most favourable for continued progress and only in a few instances has delay been caused. For a brief while severe frosts interfered with the concrete work.”

The article goes on to praise the wide footpath on each side of the bridge and the navigation opening of 80ft, meaning that no vessel will have trouble passing through.

A temporary bridge, put up to allow traffic to pass, was demolished on October 1 1928. But removing the original iron swing span, placed in position in 1881, was a different story.

It was dealt with by oxy-acetylene burners ad removed piecemeal. The arches were cut and dropped to the harbour bed and removed by divers. The piers and foundations were demolished in a coffer-dam, 135 feet by 75 feet, in which were laid pipes for control cables of the new bridge and new electric light, water and telephone mains.

Coffer-dams were also constructed for the new south abutment and north pier, sized at 135ft by 50ft.

When the old bridge was demolished some important bits of history were found. Builders discovered old bridge oak piles from a bridge built about 1700.

Before the new bridge was built, the Mayor of Weymouth at the time Percy Boyle laid the foundation stone for the new bridge. Afterwards there was a procession through the town of the mayor, members of the town council, mayors of neighbouring towns, members of the Royal Navy, local bodies and people from local schools.

Building the bridge brought on a jobs bonanza for Weymouth, with workmen engaged throughout drawn from the ranks of Weymouth’s list of unemployed or from the surrounding districts.

At times more than 150 workmen were on site.

In the early days thousands of gallons of sea water were pumped out of the coffer-dam before eventually the dam was sealed.

Sadly one workman lost his life when he fell 20ft from a platform to the concrete floor of the coffer-dam.

Built into the fabric of the bridge is a graven slab of granite, quarried in Weymouth, Massachusetts, bearing the inscription ‘From Weymouth in New England, to Weymouth, in Old England, 1930.”

Some of the men responsible for the stone even attended the opening ceremony in Weymouth all the way from the US. This slab and its inscription can still be seen today.