Until the summer of 1985, Burtonians had just one way to cross the River Trent by motor vehicle, and that was Burton Bridge. The rise of car ownership and the transfer of brewery traffic from rail to road led to much congestion on the old structure, and so it was decided to build a second road crossing between Stapenhill and Bond End, on the Burton side of the river.
As early as the 1970s, there was a demand for a new crossing over the River Trent, but nobody could quite figure out where to cross it. One idea was for a bridge from New Street in Burton, over the Washlands, to the junction of Spring Terrace Road and Stapenhill Road on the other side of the water. One of the old brewery railway lines which closed in 1970 ran out to Bond End Wharf, running parallel to Green Street. When the track was uplifted in the 1970s, it proved to be a perfect location for a road (Evershed Way) and a bridge to be built to link up with St. Peter’s Street in Stapenhill. The £2.6million bridge project was approved at a meeting of councillors on May 26th 1977.
Stapenhill Gardens had to be partly levelled to accommodate the Stapenhill end of the bridge. Previously, it had all been one area, but now it is split into Stapenhill Hollows and Stapenhill Gardens, with a pedestrian footbridge installed in 1982, before work began on the bridge.
Construction on the bridge began in 1984, although some preparatory work began in 1982-83, and the bridge was opened for traffic in August 1985. A gala day was held shortly before it was opened to traffic, allowing Burtonians the chance to walk over the new bridge.
A family from Burton drove up to the bridge barriers the night before it opened and spent the night sleeping in their car, in order to be the very first people to drive over the bridge when the barriers were removed the next morning.
There are two plaques commemorating the bridge’s official opening; one on the Stapenhill side of the bridge located in Stapenhill Gardens, and one where the bridge passes over Ferry Bridge. Lynda Chalker MP, then then-Minister of State for Transport, performed the opening of the bridge.
The bridge passes over the Ferry Bridge viaduct, and there is pedestrian access from the viaduct to St Peter’s Bridge on one side.
In summer 2017, the bridge was fully closed to allow for essential repairs to the bridge’s bearings to be carried out, as they had reached the end of their useful life. This caused massive traffic problems in the town as vehicles had to use Trent Bridge instead.
Since the bridge was built, there have been calls for a third road crossing of the River Trent in Burton, and a new bridge is about to be built in nearby Walton on Trent in Derbyshire which should help alleviate Burton’s traffic problems when it opens in 2023. A “temporary” Bailey bridge was erected in Walton in 1947 after the town’s original bridge was damaged in floods, and it is still used today. The Bailey bridge is to be retained as a pedestrian/cycle bridge when the new bridge opens.