The Humber Bridge, East Yorkshire

The quickest way south from Hull is to cross over the Humber Bridge, which spans the Humber Estuary. The bridge crosses the estuary between Hessle in East Yorkshire and Barton upon Humber in North Lincolnshire. When it opened in 1981 it was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world. It held this record for 16 years. The main span between the two towers is just under a mile.

More recent bridges in Denmark, Japan and China have successively become the longest bridge in the world.

Humber Bridge – Facts

– At the time of writing it’s the 11th longest suspension bridge in the world.
– It’s the longest bridge in the world that can be crossed by cycle or on foot.
– Three Spans make up the bridge, Barton span (south side) 530 metres, centre span 1410 metres and Hessle span (north side) 280 metres, a total distance of 2,200 metres.
– There is enough wire used in the bridge to go six times around the Moon.
– The height of the two concrete towers is 155.5 metres (510 feet).

– The towers are 36mm further apart from each other at the top than they are at the bottom. The bridge is so long that an allowance has to be made for the Earth’s curvature.
– The bridge cost £98m to build. Initial estimates were that it would cost £28m.
– 480,000 tonnes of concrete were used to build the bridge.
– The road deck is made up of 124 steel box sections.
– The roadway is streamlined to cope with wind resistance.
– The deck structure in total weighs 16,500 tonnes.
– About 10 million vehicles a year use the bridge.

History of the Bridge

For hundreds of years, the Humber Estuary was a barrier to trade and movement between East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire on the opposite bank. There had been many campaigns locally to try and get a bridge or tunnel across the estuary. Several ferries used to cross the estuary, but the road route involved going to Goole, which is 29 miles from Hull and 53 miles from Grimsby.

The construction of a suspension bridge was approved in 1959 with the passing of the Humber Bridge Act. Actual work on the bridge did not begin until 1972. A suspension bridge was thought to be the best option as the bed of the Estuary is always shifting, which means the navigable channel along which ships travel is also always changing. Therefore, the only real solution was a suspension bridge. This would have no support piers in mid-channel and would not obstruct the estuary. Because of the geology and topography of the area, the cost of constructing a tunnel would have been prohibitively excessive.

The bridge took a thousand workers and eight years to build. Vehicles first crossed the bridge on 24th June 1981. The bridge reduced the journey from Hull to Grimsby from 82 miles to 42 miles.

Bridge Viewing Areas

There is a country park on either side of the bridge. On the south side is Waters’ Edge Country Park Visitors Centre, Waterfront, Maltkiln Road, Barton-upon-Humber DN18 5JR. Waters’ Edge Country Park covers 86 acres. It has fabulous views of the Humber Bridge, a visitors centre & children’s play areas. With its diverse habitats of reedbeds, ponds, reedbeds, woodlands and meadows it is a haven for birds & other wildlife. The wildflowers that grow in the meadows attract a variety of butterflies.

On the opposite bank is the Humber Bridge Country Park, Ferriby Rd, Hessle HU13 0HB. This 52 acre, dog-friendly nature reserve, offers nature trails that take in a variety of landscapes such as woodlands, meadows, ponds and cliffs. These habitats support a diverse collection of wildlife which includes nesting and migrating birds, butterflies, and protected species such as pipistrelle bats and great crested newts.

On the north bank, there is also the North Bank Viewing Area, Ferriby Road, Hessle HU13 0LN. This is located down on the foreshore area with free car parking. Walk up to the bridge for a really stunning view as you look up at it.

Humber Bridge Walk

Of course, the highlight of any trip to the Humber Bridge is a walk along the bridge. This offers a unique and thrilling experience. There is plenty to see as well amazing views across the Estuary. Be warned though this is not for those who suffer from vertigo or don’t have a head for heights. The bridge is over 30 metres above the water. Signs indicate the steps leading to bridge’s walkway on either side of the bridge. Best of all it’s free to walk over the bridge.

Want to save this Article for later? Pin the image below.


  • Andrew Fanshawe

    I remember being at Hull university at the time the Humber bridge was being constructed. 1979 onwards. We used to go to the 7th floor of the universities library to get a good view of the progress.
    The day it opened I got in my car to travel back home to Sheffield. Think it was 50p toll!
    One particular day we noticed a couple of road section being craned into place, but they were at a strange angle. We found out later that some crane cables had snapped and the heavy sections swung out of control. Sadly some workers lost their lives. Seemingly forgotten now as is always the case. We have short memories.
    The feeling of being one of the first to drive over it in 1981 in my 1977 Datsun 100A f11 was utterly amazing! Got home in record time!
    Time moved on and 38 years later I had the pleasure of driving over it again. It brought back the same feelings I had when I was just 20 as I cruised along the bridge for the very first time.
    Truly an amazing bridge. I always felt the bridge got older with me….lol!

    • Michael

      I can remember it being built, I saw it when only about half the road deck was installed. I was absolutely thrilled when it was completed and you could walk across it. There was a time when I used the A15 quite a bit with work which was the perfect excuse to drive over the bridge!
      I think it’s a tad more than .50p now though.

      • Actually, it’s quite cheap now – I went over it last week and it’s £1.50 for a car, I’m sure at one point it used to be about £6.00. Still free to walk or cycle over it.

Leave a comment