Official opening by Alderman J. H. Burrows
Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Brigadier-General R.B. Colvin, C.B., after whom the bridge was named, performed the pile driving ceremony for the bridge, exactly one year to the day before it was opened.
The opening of the bridge was a great occasion for the local community, in particular those people on the Canvey Island side. Alderman J H Burrows officially opened the bridge at the ceremony held on Thursday, 21st May 1931. People living on the island declared the day a holiday and parties were held to celebrate. The opening was followed by a celebratory meal.
As a swing bridge, it opened to make a channel 60 feet wide for the passage of vessels and preference was given to river traffic. When the bridge was closed there were two navigable openings, each 30 feet wide, with a headway of 2 feet above high water. The first bridge operator was local man, Fred Edwards, who had previously been the ferryman.
This bridge was operational for around 40 years and opened for the last time in November 1968. The bridge that crosses the creek today was completed in 1973 and at this time the old swing bridge was demolished.
How it was reported in the Papers
The Essex Newsman of 23rd May 1931 reported:
Canvey Bridge Opened
On Thursday Ald. J. H. Burrows, J.P., chairman of the Essex County Council, opened the bridge which has been erected over the Creek to join Canvey Island to the mainland. Mr. H. P. Ansell and members of the Canvey Island Council’s Reception Committee received the guests on the Benfleet approach road side of the bridge. Ald. and Mrs Burrows were escorted to the first barrier, where the Bishop of Barking said dedicatory prayers and blessed the work.
Ald. Burrows then pressed a button electrically connected with the barrier and raised the arms and broke a white silk tape stretched across. In the name of the Urban Council and the residents, a bouquet was handed to Mrs. Burrows. The party were shown the the electrical equipment for opening and closing the roadway. Then, returning to the second barrier, Ald. Burrows opened the bridge to river traffic.
A guard of honour was comprised of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Girls’ Life Brigade, and Brownies. Every Society and Association on the Island sent representatives.
The guests at the luncheon at the Canvey Hall included the Mayor of Southend (Ald. A. Martin), Major F. C. Cook ([Chief Engineer of] Ministry of Transport}, and Mr J. R. Oldfield, M.P. Mr F. J. Leach, chairman of the council presided.
Miss C. G. James presented Ald. Burrows with a souvenir of the occasion in the form of and automatic silver writing pad.
Photos of the event
Only a few photos exist of the event.
Bridge Shortly after opening
This picture shows the the bridge in use. We believe it is shortly after the opening as the road down to the causeway is still clearly present.