A ribbon was cut and a 25-minute journey was simultaneously slashed to less than a minute.
This symbolic act was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, the Viscount De L’Isle MBE (pictured - centre of picture) as he officially opened the £19 million River Medway bridge at Peters Village.
Apart from the 1960s M2 motorway bridge, it is the first time in centuries that Kent’s greatest river has been permanently bridged between its populous upper reaches and Aylesford village – some eight miles upriver from the new crossing.
The Lord Lieutenant, who was pleased to note how the project had been completed within budget and on time, earlier unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of Peters Bridge, named after the family who ran the area’s former cement works and quarries and echoing that of the 1,000-home community, now arising from this brown field site.
Part of a £50 million infrastructure built by developer Trenport and aided by £19.5 million of loan funding from the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency, the bridge serves the future residents of Peters Village, plus the existing villages of Wouldham, Burham and Eccles on the river’s east bank and Halling on the west.
Halling and Wouldham are closest to the bridge and were previously 25 minutes apart by road, a foot ferry having stopped running in the 1960s. The villages were also briefly connected by a military Bailey Bridge during WW2.
At the new bridge opening Kent County Council cabinet member Matthew Balfour praised the tireless work of all those involved in finally making this permanent connection; Medway Council Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said he expected Peters Bridge to eventually become as important as its older equivalent eight miles downriver at Rochester; while Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Leader Nicolas Heslop called it a proud day.
Trenport MD Tony Parson said it was more than a river crossing: “It links three local authorities, creates the access way to a new community and provides significant improvements to the amenities and communications between the existing nearby settlements. It will in the future, I hope, be viewed as a classic example of the public and private sectors working together for the common good.”
This is where the Peters Village team post regular updates on the latest happenings and developments in our new village.