How the Orwell Bridge took shape - seen from Thames barge

A view of the Orwell Bridge construction in 1981 from on board the Ena

A view of the Orwell Bridge construction in 1981 from on board the Ena - Credit: Simon Benton

Do you remember when the Orwell Bridge was constructed? Simon Benton got a close-up view during a barge holiday, as his colour photos show.  

Watching the construction of the Orwell Bridge from on board the Thames barge Ena

Watching the construction of the Orwell Bridge from on board the Thames barge Ena. Mary Benton is on the left. - Credit: Simon Benton

Building work on the Ipswich landmark started in 1979, and it opened to traffic in 1982. 

On board the Thames barge Ena during construction of the Orwell Bridge.

On board the Thames barge Ena during construction of the Orwell Bridge. Simon Benton's father, Eric, is at the helm - Credit: Simon Benton

Mr Benton, of Felixstowe, said: "I took these photos when my family chartered the Thames sailing barge Ena, with friends, for a sail around to the Blackwater in 1981.

Construction of the Orwell Bridge in 1981

Construction of the Orwell Bridge in 1981 - Credit: Simon Benton

"We also sailed along the Orwell and under the Orwell Bridge, which was very impressive. I was fascinated to see it being constructed."

He also remembers seeing an advert for Yorkie bars filmed on the Orwell Bridge before it was completed. "We didn't actually see it being filmed, but it must have been around the same time," he said.


You may also want to watch:


The holiday was all the more special because the group was on board the SB Ena, a famous barge which was constructed in Harwich in 1906 and owned by R & W Paul Ltd.

Eric Benton at the helm of Thames sailing barge Ena during the holiday

Eric Benton at the helm of Thames sailing barge Ena during the holiday - Credit: Simon Benton

The barge served in the First World War and was one of the Dunkirk Little Ships.

Most Read

Mr Benton's late dad, Eric Benton, former headmaster of Gorseland School at Martlesham Heath, was at the helm for the holiday.

Simon Benton on board the Ena, watching construction of the Orwell Bridge

Simon Benton on board the Ena, watching construction of the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Eric Benton

Simon said both his dad and his late mum, Mary Benton, who taught at the nursery at Fairfield Infants School, loved sailing and being on the water.

"We loved the Ena and my parents hired her for parties from time to time."

Sadly, he said, the historic sailing barge is now laid up at Hoo on the River Medway.  

The Orwell Bridge construction at Wherstead in April 1981

The Orwell Bridge construction at Wherstead in April 1981 - Credit: Owen Hines/Archant

What are your memories of the construction and opening of the Orwell Bridge or of Thames barge Ena? Email judy.rimmer@archant.co.uk

If you have photos you would like to share, please include a caption with full names, the name of photographer and name of copyright owner.  

Looking over the construction of the Orwell Bridge

Looking over the construction of the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Archant



Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus