articles > 2008
Blackburn’s £12 million Wainwright Bridge was formally opened on 27th June 2008 with local MP Jack Straw there to cut the ribbon. John Burland, Press and Publicity Officer of the Wainwright Society, was enrolled to assist.
Pupils from St Anne’s Roman Catholic Primary School became the first people to cross the bridge to loud applause from the assembled crowd.
MP Jack Straw said: “It’s a great day, not just for the regeneration of the town but for the whole of East Lancashire.
Mayor Mohammed Khan paid tribute to Alfred Wainwright saying, “He was a famous person who was born and raised in this town and it is a proud day. “
The bridge was named after AW following a poll of local people.
With John Burland to represent the Wainwright Society were Eric Braysford, Peter Hardy and Bernard McNulty, who also met with Christopher Armstrong, Dean of Blackburn Cathedral.
After the opening ceremony a buffet reception was held at Blackburn Cathedral with liquid refreshment of Wainwright Golden Ale courtesy of Thwaites Brewery.
And the big question – Would AW have been pleased to have such an imposing structure named after him? Only one man could definitively answer that question – and he’s now elsewhere, no doubt contentedly taking in the views on his beloved Haystacks as he taps out his pipe.
Without question it’s a heart felt tribute from the people of Blackburn, who clearly still hold their town’s famous son in the highest regard.
Many thanks to Blackburn Council for their hospitality on the day and in particular Lucie McFall.
It has recently been announced that, following a poll by Lancashire Telegraph readers, Blackburn’s landmark £10-million bridge will be named after AW.
They have been voting in their hundreds to choose a name for the Freckleton Street bridge, which is due for completion this summer and has already had a dramatic impact on the skyline. After three weeks of voting, Wainwright came out on top with almost half of all of the votes cast.
Council executives and senior councillors, along with Blackburn MP Jack Straw, put together a shortlist of seven famous names from Blackburn’s past, and on 10 March voting started when Lancashire Telegraph readers were asked to choose the name they most favoured. Votes were cast on the newspaper’s website and, in addition, hundreds of postal votes were received. Readers were also able to suggest their own favourite besides the list the paper drew up.
We at the Wainwright Society applaud the readers for choosing AW. He was followed in the voting by author Josephine Cox, singer Kathleen Ferrier and former Blackburn Rovers owner Jack Walker. AW was, of course, born in Blackburn, and lived here for the first thirty-three years of his life. He founded Blackburn Rovers Supporters Club, which may have been a major factor in his topping the poll.
Council leader Cohn Rigby said: ‘I am glad that so many people have voted and had a say in the naming of the bridge. It will be here for generations to come so it is only right that people of the borough have helped to decide what it should be called.’
Work began on the 800-tonne steel structure last September. The Freckleton Street dual carriageway will form part of a multi-million scheme to transform the area, with the new road creating a link from Bolton Road to Barbara Castle Way.
A naming ceremony for the Wainwright Bridge will be held later in the summer. It is hoped that one or two members and officials from the Society will be able to take part in this.
John Burland - Society Press & Publicity Officer