As early as 1913, the City of York Council had proposed a bridge to link the districts of Clifton and Acomb and to aid onward travel. Preliminary work only began, and was abandoned, in 1950. It was not until 27 October 1963 that the Clifton Bridge project was finally realised and a permanent bridge opened by the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Kirk.
The concept had been much debated, the necessity questioned and decisions put off; the prevarications led to much higher costs later on. What seems to have finally brought the bridge construction to fruition was the royal wedding of Katherine Worsley to the Duke of Kent at York Minster which took place on 8 June 1961. Katherine was born at Hovingham Hall, Yorkshire and is the only daughter of Sir William Arthington Worsley. In anticipation of the wedding traffic, the army constructed a temporary bridge at the present Water End site where a ferry had long plied between the two banks. The slope down to the ferry is often used now as a car park for walkers along the River Ouse. The temporary bridge made the need for a permanent link manifest and the present bridge is now such a major artery for the city as to make the early hesitations and debates matters of curiosity.
The original plaque commemorating the bridge opening disappeared. Its replacement was officially unveiled on 13 January 2019 in the presence of three generations of Alderman Kirk’s family.
© Graham Frater