Peel Ports Group has launched a search for a name for a new bridge that will be built at the Port of Sheerness.
Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the bridge, which forms part of Peel Port’s multi-million-pound masterplan for growth at Sheerness.
A panel of representatives will consider all entries and a shortlist of final names will be put to a final public vote later in the year.
The new bridge will connect the current port estate to the Peel Ports Wellmarsh development, which will become a state-of-the-art logistics hub, and will span the length of Brielle Way.
Representing a £3 million investment, construction will start in July and will be handled by Hague Construction. It will be ready before the end of the year.
The bridge itself will be constructed using steel girders, which will be painted blue to reflect the heritage of neighbouring Blue Town.
From end to end the bridge will be 230m long, the equivalent of almost four football pitches and will have a height of 6.5m.
Paul Barker, Port Director Peel Ports Medway, said: “The bridge is a major part of our 20-year masterplan for growth at Sheerness.
“It will allow port vehicles to move safely and securely between the port estate and the proposed Wellmarsh site, improving access for customers, and reducing port traffic on public roads.
“We recognise that finding the appropriate name for the new bridge is a matter of considerable interest locally.
“It is therefore absolutely right that the people of the Isle of Sheppey have the final say on the identity of this important project.”
The Port of Sheerness is steeped in history, and its development has been linked directly to economic prosperity of the area since it was first opened in the 1660s.
Originally an extension of Chatham Dockyard, Sheerness was used primarily for the repair and maintenance of naval ships. Shipbuilding itself did not take place until some years later and the first dry dock was installed in 1708, with a second added in 1720.
An influx of dock workers led to the first settlement of houses unofficially being built in 1738 by dockyard construction workers, using materials from the yard. It is said that the grey-blue naval paint they used on the exteriors led to the area becoming known as the Blue Town – a name that has stuck to this day.
In the early 1820s, a fire destroyed many buildings at the dockyard, including all the Blue Houses, which led to a major redevelopment of the area. On 5 September 1823, the rebuilt dockyard was formally opened by the Duke of Clarence (later William IV).
As the settlement expanded eastwards, away from the dockyard, the wider area became known as Sheerness, taking its new name from the brightness or clearness of the water at the mouth of the River Medway.
Sheerness became home to the world’s first multi-storey steel building, with a rigid metal frame – the Sheerness Boat Store, which was completed in 1860. The Grade I listed building can still be seen at the dockyard today.
During the world wars of the twentieth century, the military ports of Sheerness and Chatham were considered prime targets for the Germans, and a huge network of trenches were constructed. The Germans never invaded the ports.
In March 1960, the Royal Navy ceased operating the Sheerness dockyard, and the Medway Port Authority took over the site for commercial use.
Now it is part of the Peel Ports Group and covers more than 1.5 million sq. m. It is one of the main import locations for cars into the UK, and also handles forest products, amongst others.
It is currently one of the largest employers in the local area, and hopes to create more jobs as part of its strategy for sustainable expansion at the port. It includes plans to reclaim up to 183 acres of land for expansion, mixed use developments, and a new marina over the next 20 years.
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