Extract from Hansard  8th April  1954

Berkeley and Sharpness Canal Bridge (Accident)

HC Deb 08 April 1954 vol 526 cc79-80W80W

§Sir R. Perkins 

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement on the recent fatal accident at Frampton-on-Severn, resulting from the collapse of the bridge over the Berkeley and Sharpness Canal.

§Mr. Lennox-Boyd 

I much regret to report this unfortunate accident, the facts of which are as follows.

On Tuesday, 30th March, at about 2.25 p.m., a British Road Services 8-wheel tipper lorry, loaded with barley in sacks, weighing in all about 18½ tons on its way from Poole to the Ministry of Food Buffer Depot near Saul, Gloucestershire, missed the turning to the Depot and attempted to cross a wooden swing bridge over the Berkeley and Sharpness Canal near the villages of Arlingham and Saul. A sign on the roadside by the bridge warns drivers that the bridge is insufficient to carry an axle weight exceeding 3 tons (clearly below the highest axle weight in this case).

The bridge consists of two halves, and when the back wheel load was transferred to the second half-span, this tipped on its fulcrum, the lorry ran backwards into the canal and the driver was trapped in his cabin and fatally injured. The bridge is in the charge of a bridge-keeper, but he has no responsibility for checking the weight of vehicles crossing it. The bridge was in a good state of repair.

Fretherne Bridge Tragedy 30th March 1954

Photo source: Martin Pollard/ Lionel Alder