A Bridge Across The English Channel?

M@
By M@
A Bridge Across The English Channel?

Londoners might today be speeding over the channel rather than under it, had plans from the 1960s come to fruition.

The British engineer Owen Williams proposed these designs for bridging la Manche in 1960. His scheme would have seen a triple-decker bridge slung between massive pylons, all the way between England and France. Two of the decks would carry cars, while trains would speed along on top.

Williams was not some amateur dreamer. The Tottenham-born civil engineer consulted on the old Wembley Stadium, designed the Dorchester Hotel and masterminded the M1 motorway. He knew a thing or two about concrete, and a thing or three about transport.

The cross-channel bridge would be more expensive than a tunnel but, he estimated, might achieve ten times the capacity. Sadly (or happily if you dislike the idea of a concrete slab crossing the Channel), nobody was willing to stump up the estimated £175 million cash and the idea went nowhere.

Plans to link France and England by tunnel stretch back to the early 19th century. Many schemes were put forward over the centuries until the present Channel Tunnel finally opened in 1994. Bridges are rarer. This may be the first time such a crossing was seriously proposed. The notion was revived in the 1980s and again more recently by (unsurprisingly) Boris Johnson.

Images from Illustrated London News, 19 November 1960. (c) Illustrated London News Group. Found in the British Newspaper Archive.

Last Updated 02 July 2018