Village Warden Colin Reedman organised the event, held on 28th October, and in his address thanked those at British Waterways and Dacorum Borough Council who had made the rebuild possible. The team from BW who built the bridge attended, as did Clayton Rae, footpaths officer from Dacorum Borough Council.
The Vicar, Rev’d Jo Wetherall, led the ceremony and spoke of there being “bridges for each other” in our lives. Ben Reeves, a senior Wilstonian, cut the ribbon and declared the bridge open for business so that villagers present could make the journey to the other side (and back), which they did.
Built from oak at a cost of £32,000, the bridge restores the ancient link between Wilstone and Long Marston. This was used in years past by villagers walking to the old church at Long Marston, before St. Cross church was built in Wilstone.
The path goes in almost a straight line across the fields to the now ruined church at the end of Chapel Lane, Long Marston. It would have been in use every Sunday at the time the canal was built, and that is probably why the canal company was required to build a footbridge, even though there are two other bridges in close proximity.
That it has been replaced in the 21st century is remarkable. The cost was met by British Waterways and Dacorum Borough Council.
The previous structure had become dilapidated and was declared unsafe last year. The new one is much better – allowing simultaneous both way traffic – and looks like it will last many decades. A proper job indeed.
by Phil Buchi