The River Humber Suspension Bridge

Hull Humber Bridge

So we left the charming East Yorkshire town of Beverley and made our way back south for the return journey to Lincolnshire on the opposite side of the Humber but before crossing the bridge we called in at the visitor centre on the north side.

At a little over 2,220 metres long the Humber Suspension Bridge is the seventh largest of its type in the World.  This statistic used to be even more impressive because when it was first opened in 1981 it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the World for the next sixteen years and the distance by road between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by nearly fifty miles as a consequence of the construction.

The longest single span suspension bridge is currently the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge in Japan.

Humber Facts

A sad fact about the bridge is that it is a favourite jumping place for people committing or attempting suicide. More than two hundred incidents of people jumping or falling from the bridge have taken place since it was opened and only five have survived so it is a fairly reliable way of doing yourself in!  And it is surprisingly easy.   There is a footpath across the bridge, there is no barrier, the railings are no more than a metre high and there is no net to catch jumpers*.

As a result, plans were announced in December 2009 to construct a suicide barrier along the walkways of the bridge but this was never implemented with design constraints being cited as the reason but it probably had something to do with cost and now there is talk of installing a Samaritan’s Hot line on the bridge instead.

In 2010 a Samaritan’s Counsellor committed suicide by jumping off the bridge.

Humber Bridge

There is a visitor centre at the bridge but it is in urgent need of a bit of updating.  It is built in the Communist Brutalist style, aggressive and concrete but there are big plans and The Humber Bridge Board has submitted a planning notice to East Riding Council outlining details of the proposed new visitor attraction for the iconic landmark.

It includes a glass elevator and viewing platform designed to take tourists to the top of the bridge’s north tower, as well as a new visitor centre and hotel in the viewing area car parks.  Whether it will come to anything we will have to wait and see.

There was a pleasant walk from the car park down steep steps made muddy and slippery following a few days of rain so we carefully followed the well worn track down to the foreshore where we could fully appreciate the majesty of the bridge spanning the river.  Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so  after it originates at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Trent it is technically an estuary (I only mention this in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).

River Humber

It may be one of the shortest rivers in England but it is also one of the most important as it deals with natural drainage from everything on the east side of the Pennines, the North Midlands and the Yorkshire Moors.  That is a lot of water and the reason why if you jump off the bridge then you are going to die!

Eventually we left the visitor area and made for the toll booths and crossed the river for the second time and then made our way back to Grimsby past the port of Immingham to the north which handles the largest quantity of goods by weight in the UK and by day is an untidy, grimy place dominated by ugly petro-chemical works and soulless grey industrial buildings but by night is transformed into a glittering Manhattan skyline of tall buildings and bright lights and occasional dancing plumes of flames burning off excess gases which actually makes it all look rather attractive.

*According to Wikipedia the three biggest suicide black spots in the World are:

  • Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing, China
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  • Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The three most popular suicide spots in England are the two hundred and fifty miles of London Underground, the one hundred and sixty metre high cliffs at Beachy Head in Sussex and the Humber Bridge.

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29 responses to “The River Humber Suspension Bridge

  1. It’s another of those places on my list Andrew. We never seem to travel in that direction. Great photos and facts. I will try to be in the right frame of mind when I get there.

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  2. Bridges are such fantastic engineering feats, from the simple ones made of ropes to those like this suspension bridge.

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  3. JoshuaGustaf

    This bridge’s structures are amazing! I love the story of this bridge!
    It’s really sad to hear about many people died because committing suicide on this bridge. Suicide becomes a major problem in USA now. More people died because of suicide than being murdered. Really sad to think about it.

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  4. I remember seeing those bizarre glittering lights at docks on the Europoort side very early one morning, and thinking ‘where am I?’

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  5. The Japs have a special park for suicide. You go off into the trees, pitch your tent and then top yourself. I watched half a documentary on it a while back, until I could take no more! It wasn’t the place for ma family ,picnic, that’s for sure! We went to see the bridge from the southern side at a viewing place at Barton. It’s a very impressive structure, and really dwarfs mere humans.

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  6. I remember the pre-bridge Humber ferries – that would have been a great topic for the blog. I was at Hull University when they were building the bridge, and one of my favourite places was the top floor of the library from where you could make out in the distance the cable-spinning bogies moving backwards and forwards across the estuary. Have you come across the Humber Bridge Song (from 1971)? See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9fg8J0Zjq0

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  7. The new visitor centre plans sound great – hope they do it.

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  8. They have put barriers on the “West Gate Bridge” in Melbourne to stop jumpers. It is a shame because it would be a great thing to walk over it.
    But the real prompt was when a fellow threw his young daughter over the edge in an attempt to upset his wife.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-15/doctors-knew-freeman-was-violent-before-bridge-murder/6620082

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  9. Cannot imagine this bridge and am not sure I’d want to cross it. It has a built in swing to it. Yikes. Scary to me anyway. Still quite a constructed feat. Too bad about ample opportunity to jump. o_O

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  10. “Swingin’ in the rain” no doubt. I hope your macabre verbosity doesn’t lend to a spike in statistics! 🙂

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  11. I often wonder how one place or thing is more popular than others even if they are equally interesting and attractive. Thanks for the knowledge, Andrew.
    I have an opinion about committing suicide by jumping off the bridge, but I better keep it to myself.
    Beautiful blaze!

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  12. “It is built in the Communist Brutalist style.” I love your way with words, Andrew. From the photos, I would say it is indeed beautiful.
    The Golden Gate Bridge has always been one of my favorites, dating all of the way back to my days as a student at Berkeley. And I have always been aware of its attractiveness for those who want to commit suicide. Sad. –Curt

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  13. The bridge is a beauty, the visitor centre is an ugly sister – all of them!

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  14. It’s a beautiful bridge Andrew but distressing to hear how many suicides are committed there. I’m not thinking a phone is going to be a huge help by the time someone has gotten to the point of seeking out the location. 😦

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  15. I remember watching a documentary on the suicides off of the golden gate bridge. All I could think about the entire time is about the people filming all of them and their not being able to help the people. It seemed morbid to sit there filming it all happen.

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  16. Gosh, Can you imagine sitting at the Cliff’s of Moher enjoying the spectacle that it is and then watching someone jump off. Terrible and sad!

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