The Portsmouth bridge which reshaped a hill and uncorked a bottleneck – Nostalgia

A while ago I published a photograph of the new A3 when it was re-aligned and bypassed the George Inn to the east of the top of Portsdown Hill. To do so a new bridge had to be built to re-route the A3 and pass underneath it.

Thursday, 11th April 2019, 11:21 am
Looking north with the Portsdown Hill bridge under construction and the George Inn on the left. The lorries are on what became the re-aligned A3.

I have received these photographs from Michael Riley, of Newton Abbot, Devon, who was the general foreman given the task of building the bridge. He always photographed work sites of which he was in charge along with colleague Michael Gafney. They worked for Brims (Swan Hunters).

Work began in February 1967 but, before, excavations had to be made as burial mounds were thought to lie in the chalk and, indeed, post holes and a small Iron Age domestic site were discovered by archaeologists.

In February 1968, 18 men working with two cranes placed 350 tons of high-strength concrete on the deck of the bridge. The £25,000 bridge was an interesting construction as it was skewed and on a slope.

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Contractors at the Portsdown Hill bridge site. Third from the left is Michael Riley and sixth from the left is Michael Gafney. The man on the tractor wheel is Martin Shipman, the site agent. The woman at the at wheel is the company secretary.

Michael says the first concrete-carrying lorry arrived from Fareham at 7.30am and work continued until 11pm that night. The bridge was opened in the summer of 1968.

Looking south, the new underpass bypassing the George Inn to the west.