21st February 2018
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have given their royal seal of approval to Sunderland’s new landmark Northern Spire bridge, after visiting the Farrans site today.
Their Royal Highnesses, William and Kate, were officially driven across the new bridge when they visited the construction site in Pallion during a visit to the city today.
During their visit, both Prince William and the Duchess helped to put one of the finishing touches to the railings of the bridge by using a wrench to tighten one of the bolts fixing the handrail in place - whilst under the watchful eye of Farrans Site Agent, Ryan Rogan.
The Northern Spire is the first bridge to be built across the River Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is on track to open this spring after three years of construction.
While at the site, Prince William and the Duchess met some of the Farrans team behind the construction of the 346m-long bridge.
The Royal couple also spent time chatting to pupils from 4 local primary schools, who had been under the wing of the Farrans Community Engagement team and had built their own polystyrene models of the bridge to mark the occasion.
Her Royal Highness was presented with flowers from the primary school children and Prince William was given an album of photos of his great grandfather, the then Duke of York, who had visited Sunderland in 1929 to open Wearmouth Bridge.
The new Northern Spire bridge is the biggest civil engineering project in the North East of England.
It features an impressive 105m central A-frame pylon, which is twice the height of Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben’s clock tower. On completion, around 2,000 people will have worked on the project over about 900,000 man-hours.
Speaking after the visit, Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director, said the team was delighted to welcome the Duke and Duchess to site.
“We all feel incredibly proud and privileged to be working on such a landmark project as Northern Spire, and having Their Royal Highnesses here today, taking such an interest in the bridge. It is something we will probably all remember for a very long time,” Stephen said.
“It’s been an immense construction project, complex and challenging at times, but we are very close to completion now and the bridge will be open to traffic in the spring.
“We are busy completing the road surfacing, paving, lights and railings now. All of these final works are dependent on the weather, so whilst we are unable to give a completion date right now, the end is in sight so people won’t have to wait too long before they can travel across this fabulous new bridge.”